I like to think that I am authentic. I aim to be true to myself, not just here but in other areas too. If I do something which I know compromises me then it plays on my mind and stresses me as I mull over it. I want to be genuine, to be honest, and to be transparent about how I feel and what I think. I don’t want to shape my opinions to suit the needs and requirements of others. I want to show what is true, warts and all. I want to be real and to build up a feeling in others that they can trust me and depend on me and rely on me.
Authenticity isn’t easy. It requires you to be vulnerable, to expose yourself and to open yourself up to judgement. That can be tricky and by thrusting yourself under the spotlight, you can experience criticism as well as recognition, you risk rejection as well as acceptance and you can be tested and called out on what you have said or done. To be seen as being authentic, you have to be known, and you can only be known if you share enough about yourself to be seen.
I have struggled off and on with the notion that I am not being true to myself, due to the separation of the different parts of my life. I can feel frustrated and boxed in sometimes with the fact that I cannot show the whole picture. What I have come to realise is that I can still be true to myself as long as I am honest within the constraints of that particular role. Rather than seeing myself as the whole picture, it works better now to look at it as different pictures in an album. Each will differ depending on the setting in place and time.
I have come to realise that what people want to see is the whole of the particular picture they are looking at. In that sense I am able to be authentic within the requirements of that particular role and I think that to see it in that way has been helpful for me. Many of the writers and bloggers I know worry about impostor syndrome. They fear that any moment they will be exposed as a fraud and I think that sometimes this is where the feeling comes from. Wearing more than one hat, and having more than one face, leads to the feeling that you are not authentically any of those things.
I feel like this too, about my writing and about other things. I don’t set myself up as an expert or a mentor. I don’t presume because I write that anyone has to see my work as worth reading. What I do, I do for me, for my own satisfaction, in order to be authentic to myself. What happens, happens more by chance or by luck than by judgement and planning, and I think this is the case with so many of those who end up feeling that way. Others come to put value on what we do, and it makes us feel uncomfortable and worry that we might be exposed as not worthy of the accolades.
So having talked myself in, and talked myself out and in again, I decided to go digging into what others saw as being authentic. I came across an article in Psychology Today called 4 Ways To Be A More Authentic Person. It states that, people are attracted to authenticity. It makes us feel comfortable, safe, and respected. We want to be around and associated with authentic people. It also goes on to suggest four techniques to help you be your most authentic self and I thought that it might be useful for a sort of self-assessment for anyone who can have those pangs of self-doubt.
Well the first one is to Be Keenly Self-Aware and the very fact that you are worrying about how others see you and whether or not you have overstepped in terms of your self-presentation probably means that you are, indeed, keenly self-aware. The second is to Find Genuine Connections and that is a huge part of what a lot of us, myself included, are doing online. Don’t Be Perfect, was the third strategy and that is one which is easy to spot in the blogging world, and in any other really. Anyone who covers up their imperfections and shows no vulnerability stands out. The final one is to Be Present and this is really about the good listening skills that are such an important part of effective communication. Apparently mastering the art of presence is the single most effective way to ensure authenticity in any situation.