Getting Real: A Guide to Personal Authenticity
Updated: May 16, 2021
Tired of being told to just “be yourself” when you’re not even sure who you are?
If you find yourself struggling to understand who you really and truly are amid the cacophony of opinion heavy, influencer-driven, expert-sounding, technologically polluted landscape—then you are definitely not alone.
We live in an age in which businesses and brands use savvy marketing strategies, advanced psychology, and the latest technology to influence, if not manipulate, not only how to spend your money but what you actually think and like and hate and prefer. Add to this family, friends, the media, and experts who are all wanting to persuade and manipulate you to varying degrees with advice and opinion. It can be hard to hear yourself think much less know who the real you is and how to be true to yourself.
If you would love to finally just be yourself and you’re wondering how the fuck to do this then read on!
In the movie Runaway Bride, Ike (Richard Gere) says to Maggie (Julia Roberts), “You’re so lost you don’t even know what kind of eggs you like.” Maggie has a history of adopting her fiancés egg preferences—scrambled, fried, poached, egg whites only—as her own. This abdication of self ultimately has serious consequences for Maggie who abandons fiancé after fiancé at the altar because deep inside she knows that she is not being true to herself.
Ultimately, it’s easy to let yourself be influenced by others and to lose yourself when you don’t know who you are and what’s right for you. And sure, liking the eggs someone else likes might be a frivolous thing to be worried about, but imagine this dynamic defining many, if not all, aspects of your life. This would be absolutely catastrophic to one’s sense of self.
Life is much easier and enjoyable when you are led by your own personal North Star!
You may be in the habit of following other people—subscribing to their ideas and opinions because it seems easier than determining your own or because they seem to speak with conviction and assurance about what’s right for you. You are, however, the only one who can decide who you truly are and what thoughts, feelings, beliefs, and actions are right for you.
Let’s get started…
To work though the following steps let’s pretend we don’t have a clue what our favourite style of eggs are.
Step 1: Pay attention to when things don’t feel right
Take a moment to think about your favourite style of eggs. Do you even have a favourite? Or are they just the eggs you ate growing up, or the only type your partner can make, or are they what you think they should be—a healthy rather than a happy choice?
You need to stop, pause, and consider the question to give yourself room to explore what you know or don’t know about your current thought. If you never stop to consider whether an idea is even yours you’ll never know if it’s a good fit for you and, if not, you’ll never explore your options let alone implement positive and lasting change.
At this point you might realize you know exactly what type of eggs you love, if so, that’s great. However, if you’re wondering, “How do I even know what I love?” Well, I’m glad you asked, because here’s a simple way to figure it out:
Ask yourself the question, “What’s my favourite style of eggs?” If you can answer with absolute conviction and certainty, i.e., “Give me sunny-side up or give me death!”, then you know the answer is you, really you! Conversely, if your answer is less convincing, i.e., “Taylor Swift loves hard-boiled eggs, so I guess I love hard-boiled eggs, too, I guess.”, then this means you don’t have the right answer—YET.
Step 2: Create a list of your options
If you feel bored by your choices, or are being lulled by the idea of it being sensible, affordable, or popular, then reject them outright. Just because eggs and avocado on toast is popular doesn’t mean it’s right for you.
If you feel hopeful, interested, curious, or excited by your choices—if you find the idea of a hard-boiled egg in a cute little egg holder is fun and interesting to you—add it to your list of options.
Do not fall into the trap of shaming yourself by judging, forcing, or modifying your ideas. These ideas are yours and yours alone and the only way to discover the real you is to create an open and inviting environment that allows you to explore your true self. You don’t want to slam the door on yourself and deny yourself this opportunity.
Step 3: Assess your options
Now that you have a list of ideas, it’s time to assess your reaction to each. Here’s where you get to try different styles of eggs and be surprised, delighted, bored, or grossed out. Your natural unfiltered reaction is the insight you’re looking for. It’s the information that will help you determine unequivocally what your favourite style of eggs are.
TIP: To know what’s true for you it is critical that you come to your conclusions on your own.
Now taking your most promising ideas here are a few ways to think through the knowledge you’ve just acquired:
Take a look at your idea from many different perspectives and “get to know it.”
Ask yourself why do you think you like it? What’s so good about it? How does it fit with what you already know is true about yourself?
Check to see if your thoughts have been affected by outside influences.
Try to figure out what thoughts, if any, reflect the real you. Look for a calm sense of knowing this is simply and utterly true.
Be aware that sometimes instead of a “Hell, yes!” you might just have a feeling of contentment or comfort.
Make sure to not be too critical of yourself or get frustrated. Some things are a lot easier to know about yourself than others. Stay curious!
Step 4: Live your life as your authentic self
Implement the insights about yourself that you’ve just discovered. Know that you don’t have to prove, justify, or explain yourself, your choices, or your preferences to anyone if you don’t want to.
TIP: When you explain something about yourself to another person think of it as a gift that you are choosing to give rather than as something you owe.
If that means I love scrambled eggs with tons of pungent cheese grated on top, much to the disdain of those around me, that’s too bad for everyone else—this is how I’m eating my eggs.
Remember too, that you always have permission to change, modify, or get rid of something that no longer reflects your preferences and values as you continue to live and evolve. This could look like:
If you don’t like the result: CHANGE
If this idea no longer serves you: CHANGE
If this option no longer exists: CHANGE
If the cost is too high: CHANGE
A final thought…
Even though it might seem uncomfortable and challenging to figure out who you are, the benefits of doing so far outweigh the difficulty:
You no longer need to wear a mask or become a chameleon because you feel uncertain about yourself.
You’re no longer stuck living someone else’s life.
You no longer have to mindlessly people-please.
You no longer allow yourself to be manipulated by others.
You always put your true self forward giving you the best chance at living an authentic life.
You establish your own personal North Star to guide you through uncertainty and stress.
Now it’s time to get ready to try this out for yourself…
Pick something you’re not quite sure about: it could be your favourite colour, song, feel-good movie, or yes, even your egg preference. Spend some time in thought, mulling over, exploring, trying, experimenting, and experiencing new things until you figure it out. Remember to stay curious and open-minded. And absolutely have fun with this!
And as for Maggie, the answer for her is “I love eggs benedict, I hate every other kind.”
Wishing you happiness always,
Now I want to hear from you. What’s one belief you used to hold that wasn’t true for you? Comment below and let me know.