Authenticity is a hot topic these days. Business and HR experts talk about the need for authenticity in the workplace. Mental health experts remind us of the need to be authentic in our personal lives. Perhaps you are pursuing genuine authenticity but find it a struggle. Know this: the struggle is not in your imagination. It is very real.
Very few things in life come easy – especially things that are worth accomplishing. Genuine authenticity is one of those things. The struggle begins with the very definition of the word. Unfortunately, authenticity has no single definition. Different people define it in different ways.
For the sake of this post, we will go with the simplest and most commonly accepted definition: being who you are rather than what other people expect you to be. If you can live with that definition, then let’s move on.
Figuring Out That Person
Many people new to the authenticity concept struggle in one key area right from the start: figuring out who that person is. How can you be your authentic self if you don’t know what that person looks like? The entire first part of your journey is spent trying to get to know that person.
There is also the possibility of figuring out who you really are but then not being happy with what you discover. Then you have the conflict of whether to change. And if you do decide a change is in order, does that mean you are capitulating to someone else’s standards?
Living Authentically in the World
Once you figure out who your authentic self really is, you can begin the process of learning how to be that person every day. But the struggle doesn’t go away. Why? Because you live in a world that is much bigger than yourself. It can be difficult to know how to live authentically in that world.
Plurawl is a boutique clothing brand based in New York City. They sell mostly t-shirts, sweatshirts, and artwork aimed at the LatinX community. Authenticity is a big part of their brand. Interestingly enough, the company was started by a professional who felt he could not be truly authentic in the professional world. He has managed to find a good balance by starting his own company that reflects who he is and what he believes. Yet not everyone striving to be genuinely authentic succeeds in finding that balance.
Being Comfortable in both Worlds
Yet another challenge of attaining genuine authenticity is being comfortable in both worlds. Try as you might to be truly authentic, the vast majority of people around you will not be on the same journey. You will not be able to insulate yourself from them, either. You will still have to work with them. You will still have to do business with them.
Striving to be authentic in a world that is generally not can be uncomfortable at times. It’s easy to find yourself wondering whether there are times to put off your authenticity just so you can get along. There are times when you want to scream at the top of your lungs, letting all of those around you know that you do not appreciate the expectations they place on you.
People everywhere are striving to be authentic in every aspect of life. If you are among them, you may be struggling to reach your authenticity goals. Do not beat yourself up. The struggle you are experiencing is not in your imagination. It is very real, and it’s part-and-parcel with striving to be authentic in a world that is largely inauthentic.