– by Wendy Morley, Publisher –
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“Authentic” is the marketing buzzword these days, and you’ll see it used to try to get you to buy everything from jeans to beer to your next vacation. In fact, I’ve sat in plenty of meetings where a bunch of people who have spent years clinically planning and creating a product and then designing a marketing plan and launching it with a huge event describing it as “authentic.”
Huh? That’s authentic? It’s no wonder marketing-speak pisses everyone off. Before long any word used in this context will be anathema to the masses.
But let’s take a step back from the advertising world for a moment, because the word has a real meaning, and it’s got very little to do with which beer you drink or whether you post pictures in your favorite wood-tabled coffee shop on Instagram.
Real. Genuine. Legitimate. These are some synonyms for “authentic,” and I want you to think about how they relate to you and the choices you make in life. Unless you’re truly a bad dude (in which case being authentic should keep you in perennial trouble. I’ll assume for the sake of this article that you’re not.), you’ll probably find trouble comes to you when you are not being your authentic self. And then this is where regrets, whether small or devastating, can find their way in.
Being true to yourself
If you have to be convinced to do something you do not feel good about, you are not being your authentic self. I’m not talking about testing boundaries and finding your limits – that will feel a little scary (and hopefully exhilarating!) but these activities must rest within the realities of your authentic self. Wear clothes that are different from what you would usually wear, sure. But wearing clothes that make it feel like you’re spending your day at a costume ball just because your friend says you should wear it? That is being inauthentic and will not feel right.
That’s a banal example, but how about being convinced to go further sexually than you feel comfortable going? Or getting plastered at a party and waking up in the morning devastated by the way you behaved? Or marrying someone your family loves but who you know will bore you to tears in a year’s time? Or studying dentistry because your parents own a string of clinics when the only thing you can imagine doing the rest of your life is landscaping?
Confidence and Courage
Being authentic, being true to yourself, means acting in accordance with what you believe. It’s easy to be pulled away from your truth when you don’t have faith in yourself, and this can result in making choices that are discordant with what’s important to you. You question yourself, and these areas of doubt may encourage you to make choices that you know are not right for you.
These areas of doubt are also what manipulators seek out. Believe me, the young woman who has little confidence is the target of guys trying to get laid. Con artists target people who are willing to not listen to their own better judgment. Your better judgment is your true self. Listen to it!
The confidence that comes from loving and believing in yourself makes it easy to navigate through these waters. When you are very sure who you are and stay true to that authentic self, your decisions become easy, even if sometimes you need courage to deal with those decisions. It’s not easy to leave a good job that supports questionable business practices, for example. It’s not easy to tell your parents that you don’t want to run their dentistry empire. It’s not easy to stop a guy who’s pushing you to have sex. But dealing with these difficult issues in a way that’s congruent with your own authentic self is necessary for your lifelong peace of mind.
Be the person you are, with no apologies necessary.
Wendy has spent much of her life writing about things that improve readers’ health and well being. She has no patience for negativity, shaming or dictating how others “should” be, but rather aims to help people become both true to themselves and happy to be alive.