According to Jean-Jacques Rousseau, authenticity is derived from the natural self, while inauthenticity is a result of external influences. You know- the ego, societal expectations, and materialism.
So, what is your natural self?
When you stop holding onto the fear of what others think of you, the magic starts to happen:
When you live your life authentically, things start to fall into place. The right people and opportunities effortlessly find their way to you. The weight of the world seems to fall away.
For years I tried to water down the person I was due to fear of what people had to say about me. I would tone down my message, hold back my truth, or justify simple things simply because of what others may think.
Often times, I had no real evidence of what they were actually thinking.
As I began to accept the person I am, I stopped considering the opinions of others. Sure, it is important for me to be kind and considerate, but I also know when I need to set personal boundaries. I stopped trying to fit in and embraced what fits for me.
I wrote this back in 2017, when I began my journey of giving less F’s about everything else and caring more about me:
When you’re in alignment with the person you are meant to be, you won’t fit in like you did before. You will see the world much clearer, more serene, and with a sense of purpose. The noise from the outside world will no longer affect you so much and you will begin to find ways to improve the world around you, not complain about it. As you continue to discover your true self, remember that the positives far outweigh the negatives. Although it can be uncomfortable at first, keep doing you- you’ll thank yourself later.
If you’ve spent years trying to please everyone around you, here’s the sign you need to break the habit and start remembering the most important person of all: yourself.
There comes a day when you stop letting the outside world trick you into thinking there is only one way to life, security, happiness, and success.
A lovely friend of mine, a neurologist in Cambridge, described the city perfectly to me once:
“Cambridge: where everyone thinks they’re a ‘renegade.'”
I had only been in Boston for a few months, so I hadn’t yet gotten an impression of the people or the culture. However, I liked this idea, and I certainly loved Cambridge.
Although I used to wish I had taken a traditional path (or at least a “laid out” one) I realize now through listening to others that it wouldn’t have been right for me. I have spent the past 11 years trying to “fit” the mold; city to city, job to job, relationship to relationship. It was a struggle trying to fit this square peg in a round hole.
I had simply assumed by speaking with her, the grounded and successful woman she is, that she must have had an easier path than mine. That things came naturally to her. That she followed her heart when making her career choice. However, upon knowing her better, I learned that it wasn’t her choice to become a doctor; it was her father’s.
I met this woman April of 2017, and she played an instrumental role helping me learn I am enough. She said to me, over and over, that I am fine just as I am.
I didn’t realize what she meant until now.
As my life came together, fell apart, and came back together time and time again back in the summer of 2017, my friend (who I just visited in NYC) also reminded me of how strong I am. Although I felt hopeless at times, she saw the light in me. She recognized my strengths. She helped me see my own light; and in turn, I have been able to do the same for her.
It’s interesting how we can get down on ourselves so easily, yet we are much stronger than we give ourselves credit for.
Now, let’s go back to the idea of a “renegade.”
This made me laugh.
However, much of our society blindly follows the unwritten rules the “patriarchy” laid out years ago, without question.
I can’t imagine living an existence where I don’t question these rules.
As I began to step into my authentic self, I stood up to “the man.” I have ignored their sexist comments. I have ignored people telling me I can’t do things. I have been independent.
Perhaps this does make me a “renegade.”
Over the years I thought about what society wanted me to do; or at least, what those around me expected. I thought that if I got an advanced degree, a certain job, or had impressive credentials, I would please others.
But why did I care about pleasing the patriarchy?
I wasn’t pleasing myself.
As I have let the ideas of what other people “expect” from me, I realize that I wasn’t doing anyone any good. I wasn’t happy in relationships or jobs where I couldn’t be myself. I wasn’t succeeding in roles that didn’t align with my talents. I felt anxiety in environments I forced myself to be in.
As my spiritual practice and confidence grows, the more I realize that manmade rules are simply tricks to give others power.
We have all the power we need within ourselves.
The more fearlessly honest I am, the more gifts have appeared in my life. I’ve been published in places I never dreamed to see my work, I’ve received heartfelt letters from readers who didn’t know who else to turn to, and I’ve gotten the opportunity (and blessing) to find inner peace, joy, and empowerment through my authenticity.
I used to water down my personality to “fit in.” That didn’t serve anyone. Today, I refuse to play a role in society; I will live my truth.
I came to this earth for a reason; and that reason wasn’t to follow the patriarchy, let someone scare me into doing things their way, or let others take my power.
My reason was to help others realize they, too, can fearlessly spread their wings and fly.
The moon is in a brand new phase, the sun is shining, and the day has begun.
It’s the perfect day to live authentically you.
Today isn’t a day to apologize for something you believe in, or to dim your sparkle. It’s not a day to hold back, to settle for less, or to keep quiet.
Today is a day to shine.
Sometimes we need a reminder to live the life we want, to speak our minds, and to have the courage to say “no.” We need a reminder that we live in a magical world full of unlimited possibilities; a world where we can make our dreams a reality.
It’s important to remember that every day we wake up new and have yet another opportunity to take charge of our own life, happiness, and goals. Isn’t that exciting? Whether you’re in a rut in your career, relationship, or day-to-day routine, take out a pen and piece of paper and think about these three things:
Am I following my heart?
Am I making the most of the situation?
What changes can I make to live more authentically?
Journaling always helps me put life into perspective and focus on what I can improve. As I think about my own goals, I look around at other examples of “success.” For some, it’s settling down and having a family. For others, it’s climbing the corporate ladder. Perhaps it’s academia, fame, money, or social status. Everyone has their own idea of success, and each person has their own authentic truth. What is meaningful to you?
It’s difficult to compare myself to others around me, as my personal success is found within and in the ways I connect with people. Being able to open up and be vulnerable about my own challenges has helped me to heal, to live more authentically, and to help others know that they’re not alone. Touching just one person gives me a deep sense of success, so I do my best to be honest, write with my heart, and teach the lessons I’ve learned along the way.
Holding back from our own talents, desires, and dreams may seem like the safe route, but you’ll quickly learn that it feels much better to step out of your comfort zone. Whether you dream of taking that job across the country, ending a career to travel, or starting a new project, remember to listen to your heart, embrace your uniqueness, and have confidence in your creations. There’s only one you, so don’t shy away from your authenticity. The world is waiting!