Here is the #1 Rule for Being Truly Authentic

Do you consider yourself a genuinely authentic person? It is a safe bet that most of us probably do. But if that is the case, why does our culture place such a strong emphasis on authenticity? We don’t need to be reminded to do something we are already doing. So either we are nagging ourselves or we aren’t truly authentic.

How about you? How would you know? By following the number one rule of authenticity: figure out who you are. There is no way to be truly authentic if you cannot define it for yourself. If you don’t know who you are, as a person, there is no way you can make a concerted effort to be that person all the time.

Not As Simple as It Sounds

On its face, it sounds pretty simple to figure out who you are. You sit down in a quiet place and reflect. You think about what you like and don’t like. You think about your passions and interests. You contemplate what types of things frustrate you. But here is the thing: that kind of reflection is almost always fueled by emotions. There is nothing wrong with emotions, but you are more than what you feel.

Plurawl is a LatinX apparel brand based in New York City. One of their hottest selling LatinX T-shirts is one that encourages people to be authentic. The back of the shirt boasts a list of characteristics that allegedly define what an authentic person is like. But what if those characteristics do not match your personality? Does that mean you are not truly authentic?

Figuring out who you are isn’t as simple as it sounds. Most people cannot do it in a single five-minute meditation session. Some people can’t figure it out with a few weeks or months of meditation. It could take years. Some people never figure it out.

We Are All Biased

The other challenge of being truly authentic is bias. Let’s be real here. We are all biased in our impressions of ourselves. Most of us think more highly of ourselves then we ought to, and what we think of ourselves doesn’t match reality. On the other end, there are a smaller number of people who think too little of themselves. They are a lot better, stronger, etc. than they give themselves credit for.

Being honest about this engenders the question of why we are usually not honest about who we really are. For some people, it could be that an honest self-assessment is too painful. They like to think more highly of themselves because facing reality is too comfortable.

Authenticity Isn’t Static

Making an honest effort to figure out who you are also reveals that authenticity isn’t static. For example, self-examination may help you determine that you do not fit your company’s mold. When you are at home, you dress differently. You speak differently. You hang out with people who are remarkably different from your coworkers.

Does that mean that you are not being authentic at work? Does it mean that your at-work persona is disingenuous? Only you can decide that. Some of your friends might encourage you to look for another job at which you can be authentic. But you like your job. Besides, you believe that part of your authentic self is maintaining the company standard in order to contribute to the team. Which viewpoint is correct?

Whether or not a person can be truly authentic is up for grabs. But if it is possible, it must start with figuring out who you are. How can you be authentic to a person you do not know?

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