Let’s face it, the inter-connectivity of the world has us constantly wondering about our “internet profile.” What do people see when they find us online, whether it be Facebook, Youtube, LinkedIn, or that very obscure Russian dating site ComradeForLife.com that you were desperate to try after a few bad dates?
This has us stressed, desperately trying to create a persona for the people to see.
This is the true me! You triumphantly proclaim. I’m just this down to earth guy/gal that has all sorts of interests and is sometimes a little crazy!
This all may be true, even annoyingly so, but so many times we are caught chasing our tails, putting up pictures, posts, images, etc, and editing everything to our liking that we don’t realize that if we were to just stop, we could actually be focusing on the kinds of activities that result in wholesome self knowledge and which to lead to more genuine living.
Why Authenticity Matters
There is nothing more dangerous than a person who knows exactly what they want, down to the specifics. Many of us want the same things: Money, Success, Accomplishment, etc. But these are vague things. Important, sure, but vague.
When you know exactly who you are and what you want, the path to realizing that dream becomes visible. You can craft yourself into the tool needed to complete the task.
Authentic people have different attributes that help them succeed:
- Self-Knowledge: They know their strengths and weaknesses, knowing how they will initially react to certain situations and how problems involving the self might be overcome.
- Moral Force: They know their reasoning behind the choices they make. They do not blindly follow doctrine, nor wade in the water, never moving. They know when they need to withhold judgment because they need to gather more information.
- Emotional Depth: They are connected to their desires and goals in a deeper way because they know those are the things that truly matter to them.
These attributes not only contribute to success, they contribute to a life well-lived. An authentic person knows the kind of life they want and because of this are better able to secure it.
The Path To Authenticity
To be genuine matters, as I have shown. It truly is a trait that I admire in people.
The reason I admire it so much is because the path to become a genuine person is a difficult one. It is one of much learning and much self-reflection. It is very much a path to wisdom, as learning about yourself allows you to understand just how others might be similar.
Let’s take a look at the main points:
- Growing up we are pushed towards certain activities by our parents, siblings, guardians, friends, etc. Taking part in these activities, we naturally gain an understanding through experimenting. Poking, prodding, running, jumping, throwing, asking questions, trying out new strategies. Whatever endeavor we may involve ourselves in, we take the time to learn about it and understand it.
- After a certain threshold is reached, we begin to self-reflect upon the endeavor. Are we good at it? Do we enjoy it? Do I need to keep up with it? Do I need to learn more before I make a decision? Should I just give it up and move on to something else? These questions help us explore our own motivations, desires, strengths and weaknesses. Both for the activity and in general. If we have procrastination problems in one regard, chances are that will be a trait we bring to the table no matter where we go.
- We take this knowledge we have gained and use it, having learned a little bit more about ourselves.
While this is a very simplified version of what is going on, it’s still useful to know.
This is a naturally occurring progression, one we don’t have to consciously worry about doing. We all differ though in our depth for each step. Some of us have a very low tolerance for activities we initially hate, while some of us might spend too long doing something which is just not for us.
In any case, you can make the process work better by following some guidelines. These will ensure that you are getting the most out of the process and gaining a deep sense of self and therefore authenticity.
- Be willing to try new things. So often we shy away from the kinds of activities that we are not accustomed to or we are worried about looking like a fool in front of others. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes early on and laugh at your own hiccups. Finally, give the activity enough of a chance so it shows you at least made an effort.
- Ask the tough questions, and be willing to follow the possibly tough consequences of the answer. “Am I lazy?” “Am I the problem?” “Do I need to change myself?” Be willing to ask the questions that might bring out the truth, even if it does hurt. Asking deeper and harder questions about yourself in relation to the endeavor will mean you will gain that much more knowledge. Also, be willing to take the route an answer might lead even if that route is a tough one. Do you need to stick it out in an activity to hate for just a while longer? Then keep going if it means greater rewards down the road.
- Cultivate your talents according to the knowledge you have gained and take time to develop your weaknesses, lest they hold you back.
Adding a little depth to each step of the process will add more depth your character, making you a more authentic person.
Your Most Important Asset
Authenticity should be at the base of your personal development goals. It sets the foundation for the things you end up doing, no matter what they are.
You are a vehicle making your way through the world. Making the vehicle reflect what you truly are means that no matter where life takes you, it will not be some empty shell merely responding in a robotic way. It will be a deep, genuine human being making decisions and moving about in a way that aligns with how they truly want to live.
Authenticity matters, and while it is okay to edit your photos with the latest Instagram filter to bring out your blue eyes, let’s not take it too far, shall we?