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Authenticity is hard in today’s world
Social media is such a thing these days. So many people put all their business out in public. But you still have to think about what you’re putting out there. A former co-worker of mine (an attorney) posted a quote: “Dance like nobody’s watching and write emails like you may have to read them aloud in a deposition someday.” So how do you be the real you, when so much of life may be documented on the internet for your family, your boss, and every weird stranger out there to see? How do you foster authenticity in your life when so many things around you may be fake? And how do you still achieve success in reaching your goals without conforming?
I think the above quote is a good start toward being authentic, but still being cautious enough to stay out of major trouble. Don’t put things out there that may come back to haunt you later because you’re having a bad day. Even things that get deleted are probably not really deleted. And if they happen in person, they are definitely not getting deleted.
Give yourself permission to make mistakes
I used to beat myself up over stuff. I’d replay it in my head and try to figure out what I could have done differently. These days, I try to do fewer things that may be a bad idea. I try to slow down, think things through, and take a breath before I take action or open my mouth. And if I still mess it up, I try to forgive myself. If necessary I will admit my mistake and apologize for it and find a way to make it better.
Even so, sometimes I do nothing wrong and people still get upset. I’m the gluten-free vegan tree-hugger child-free nomad minimalist artist who works with math and science for my day job. This blog is about our lives, but it’s hard to find a niche because there probably are not many like me out there. I’m not asking anyone else to make my life choices, but sometimes what I decide for myself offends people. Or, they just find it too weird to be something they want to know about.
I don’t say these things to generate sympathy, because I make no apologies for who I am nor do I regret it for one second. I say them because I want you to know it’s ok to be different. It’s ok to be the real you. It’s also perfectly normal to feel isolated sometimes, and as if people don’t accept you. The important thing is whether you accept yourself.
Finding a comfortable place within today’s reality
As a blogger, there is a lot of competition out there, and therefore a lot of pressure to do what everyone else is doing. For example on Instagram for the past few days I saw a lot of people doing top 9 photographs for 2016. I have no idea where this came from, but so many people did it that I wondered if I should too.
But we had this huge rain and thunderstorm here on New Year’s Eve. There was a bunch of lightning, and I thought how cool it was that Mother Nature created her own fireworks to ring in the new year. So I took a short video and posted that on Instagram instead, because that was more interesting to me. I’m not saying one choice is better or worse than the other. I enjoyed looking at other people’s top 9 photos and seeing their favorite memories. But it didn’t feel quite right for me to join in.
Sometimes I feel like I’m communicating into a vacuum–and I know I’m not the only one, as I’ve heard the same thing from other bloggers who (I perceive) are further along in their journey than I am. I think it’s important to focus on where you are in the present and not compare to others. Everyone’s path is different. No matter what your goals or dreams, try to find a support system where you are welcome to be your true self. Embrace that self, and give it love and respect even if everyone doesn’t really “get” you.
Because once you find joy in today, getting the tomorrow you envision is that much easier.
Take inventory about how you feel about your life
Gratitude is a good thing. Focusing on what’s good in the here and now leads to better acceptance of who you are–because if you are happy, then you must be doing something right. If you seem to have the approval of others but you feel empty and lonely, perhaps you need to stop worrying about what other people think and start caring about what you think.
It’s OK to not have all the answers
“Fake it till you make it,” right? We are taught to project confidence and success and it will lead us to actual achievement. But pretending to be an expert when you’re still learning is not necessarily authentic. Also, deciding on a course of action is great. But if you realize it isn’t working and stick to it just because you’re afraid of admitting it was wrong, that doesn’t help you or anyone else.
Don’t let fear of what the future holds keep you from being authentic
Deciding to put your true self out into the world may create a lot of anxiety. It’s natural to worry what you are doing is not good enough, or interesting enough. There is a lot of advice out there seeming to indicate that unless you follow trends or jump on bandwagons, you just won’t see the same success.
I think I even saw an article once that taught you which goals you should focus on. Well, what if you don’t like those goals? Should you achieve them just because someone else says they are THE goals to achieve? Where is the authenticity in achieving goals you don’t even care about?
Have faith that persistence will get you to the right place
Success is not usually a straight path from Point A to Point B. If roadblocks and forks in the road occur, deal with them as they come up. See them for what they are. A challenge along the way is not the end of the road. Know that as a unique human being, you have the ability to come up with unique solutions to your problems. You can find answers in ways that only you know, with your life experiences and skillset.
What are your unique traits that you have learned to love? How have they helped you to be successful?