Authenticity — what is it, who has it, and how do you get it?
What does it mean to be authentic?
Earlier in my career, I worked as a banker. Life in the bank is a rush of the moment, you get in and out of office. You fit the corporate life according to the needs of a corporate leader. Becoming a banker does a lot for my bank balance but deep inside the job itself never felt right to me.
That’s often the feeling we get when we are being inauthentic — or acting in ways that aren’t in-line with our values, preferences, and abilities. That something isn’t right. We feel out-of-sync and out-of-sorts, even if things on the surface appear to be ideal.
There can be moments when we are truly expressing our authentic selves and then there are moments that trigger our inner wounds. We then find ourselves acting in a way that’s out of alignment with our own inner truth and, instead, acting as a reaction to our wounds being reactivated.
I wanted to write articles, not create a bank account release. I wanted to inspire others, not create reputations and images for people who were too busy to do it themselves. The job — hands down I know many talented, passionate folks who do it well — just wasn’t consistent with who I knew myself to be. I felt inauthentic. That’s it.
The cornerstone of authenticity is Self-Awareness
With many paths to self-improvement, one must start by observing yourself. You will meet new people eventually, engage in work and spend time with different social groups, try to observe how you feel in each situation. When do you feel most comfortable? Authenticity starts when you set the intention to be genuine. Then, there must be an awareness of what that looks and feels like, and a willingness to act in accordance with your genuine nature even when it feels vulnerable.
When this kind of self-awareness kicks in, your decisions are easier because you are free to choose things that move you closer to your values. You are able to stand in the presence of your imperfections because you can accept your humanity. You can also embrace your talents and abilities.
But take my advice seriously – Authenticity may also require you to make unpopular decisions or to acknowledge aspects of yourself that you’d rather hideaway, but in the end, it allows you to live a more open, honest, and engaged life.
When I left my job as a banker, I felt happy at first but that joy turns out to be a questioning point in my life. I felt lost. I asked myself, ‘where is my busy life?’, ‘what is my back up plan for my future hereafter?’… ‘Did I make a wise decision to leave a secured job just to follow my dreams?’ I know I had to do something to my life and it took me some serious guts to stand firm with my decisions and follow my heart. Now here, this is what I call intuition.
I had to foster an open mind. Practice, practice, practice. Practice your mind to have a reexamination. Authenticity flourishes when we experience the world wholly, from every perspective. Rigid, good/bad thinking keeps us trapped in judgment and limitation, which causes us to shut down our vulnerable, authentic self. Challenge yourself to look at all sides of the situation. Be open.
Always trust your intuition. Often, we feel out of sync when we are acting inauthentically. Things just don’t feel right. Pay attention to that heed, physical sensations, and impressions. They can be your instincts telling you that you are not being genuine. When you are on track and authentic, you’ll feel that too.
I felt at ease and in flow when I left being a banker a few months later to write full-time. Finally, I was truly myself: authentic. This is a journey that is unpredictable as I learn more about myself.
Through a clear intention and paying attention, eventually, I learn to hold myself accountable. Through discipline and commitment, I learn to do my best to live according to who I know myself to be. That’s profound authenticity, and it sure beats the alternative!
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