Authenticity: be you


I came across this on Pinterest last night and it was so in line with conversations I'd been having as well as thoughts that have been going round my head all week, so I'm going to try and write something on it.

Authenticity: knowing who you are and being brave enough to live it.

Authenticity is something I really value. It is a characteristic I admire in people and it is a trait I appreciate and look for in friendships. And it's a virtue I'd love to live out.

Definition:genuineness

Synonyms: accuracy, correctness, credibility, dependability, factualness, legitimacy, purity, realness, reliability, trustworthiness, truthfulness, validity, veritableness

It means to be genuine. It's a word we quite often use when describing someone: "He's such a genuine guy", meaning that they're very real. There's nothing fake about them – they're pure in who they are, and exhibit most of the synonyms listed above. It's something that actually, while it sounds straightforward and simple and obvious to live out, it's often not. We often have different versions of ourselves, different personas we use in different situations, or with different people. And sometimes that's ok – I.e. Your work self may be slightly more formal than your social self, or something along those lines. Which is fine. But often, it's nothing to do with that. Often we put on different versions of ourselves not for us, but for other people. We try and act and behave how we think others want us to. In ways we think will get us liked more, or more included. I've been doing it for years – I think everyone does it at some point and to some extent, particularly growing up. I don't know if the shy thing maybe accentuates it, but all through school and in the army as well, I would try and be who I thought my 'friends' wanted me to be. I'd try and be more like them, less like me. Whether that was kid stuff like trying to do my hair the same as theirs (I went through a phase in early high school of very slicked down pony tails cos that's what everyone else did…it was never a good look and with my thick crazy hair it was even worse!), or going to a club and attempting to dance, pretending it was something I remotely enjoyed, or imitating the language they use (be it good or bad!). I always thought that if I could be more like them (whoever 'they' happened to be at that time) then I would be fine. I would finally fit in. I would make better friendships. I would be liked more. I would succeed more. But frankly, that's a load of crap.

I guess for lots of people, it comes down to whether, or how much, you love or even like yourself in the first place. That surely will determine how much you want to be that other person – the other you, the 'better' version of you. And why is that? Like, why are we so much better at loving other people, at seeing their positives attributes and what makes them great, yet when it comes to us, we so often have negative-tinted glasses on. It can be like we're blinkered. We see what we can't do – the things we're not so good at, or the traits we don't have that others do. We see the things we think are holding us back, but never the things propelling us forward. Why do we struggle to build ourselves up, in the same way we would so easily encourage or compliment others? I would never speak to someone else the way I've so often put myself down. So why do we do it to ourselves?

I get wanting to be better in the sense of being kinder, more caring, more compassionate, more conscientious etc., but you don't need to change who you are to do that. Whether you believe in God and Christianity and that God made us in his image or not, being authentically you is the best thing you can do. You were made the way you are for a reason – traits, qualities, flaws and all – you literally wouldn't be you otherwise. Being authentic not only helps and benefits you – making you happier and confident, letting you worry less about who you're 'supposed' to be – but it makes your relationships more real, more genuine, and stronger too. And to me at least, that's super important. And judging by the amount of posts I found on Pinterest about 'being you', I don't think I'm the only one who thinks about this.

This post is super messy, but it's something I care a lot about. Being authentic is important to me. I've spent years trying to get out of the mindset that I should be or need to be someone else, to stop telling myself I'm not good enough, and I'm still trying to some extent, albeit a lot less. The other side of authenticity I find difficult is in relation to my faith or to the Salvation Army. And it really bugs me. But I think that's going to be another post in itself. When I'm not being super skeptical, I believe that God loves us for who we are, warts and all – 'we can't escape his love or take ourselves out of his care'. God loves you and your family and real friends love you for exactly who you are, so you need to do the same and love yourself too.

complete side note: sometimes it probably comes across that I'm completely miserable, or that I spend my entire life thinking or feeling down or in turmoil, beating myself up, but it's not like that at all. I mean, yeah I think lots, and sometimes I do struggle with faith/personal stuff/relationships, like everyone. I just write it down because it helps me process stuff and dwell on it less, in the way that people would keep a diary. I don't think I'm special or superior and I'm not looking for attention. I guess I share it in the hope that by being so open and honest, even one person might relate to something I write and realise it's not 'just them'. (Even if it means I get judged for posting or sharing it, or get a whole load of anxiety every time I do post!!) And anyway, I enjoy writing them, and I enjoy the discussions that occasionally come from them. ☺️

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