Are you being authentic to yourself? Most people would say they are but are they really?
Being authentic or genuine, is acting and speaking in a way that is consistent with your actual wants and values. Sure it Sounds like an easy task. After all, don’t we always execute against our core values and wants? I really don’t think so. A lot of introverts can attest to this because we listen so much. Most people aren’t being authentic. How many times have you overheard someone complaining about the things they are not doing because of what they are doing?
In the past week I’ve talked to people that would rather be working at another job, that are dating someone that they believe doesn’t treat them well, that like someone but are afraid to share their feelings, and that’s just from recent memory. So why do we continue with behavior that doesn’t serve us? Most of us are afraid to act on our true feelings because we don’t know how others will react to our “truth.” “What if they don’t like me?” “What if I don’t like my new job?” “What if I can’t find a new boyfriend or girlfriend?” Our fear of the unknown holds us back.
The problem with fear of the unknown is that we literally don’t know what will happen. We choose to have a worst-case scenario bias instead of best-case scenario.
So what do we do in response to that fear?
There are two things we do primarily. The first is conform. We conform under the pressure to fit in instead of stand out. Instead of looking for or taking a job that fulfills us we accept our current circumstances as necessary. “I’ve got bills to pay” or “I’ve already been here for so long I don’t want to start over,” we say. We believe that our significant other can change or every relationship has its problems. And we shoot ourselves down before we even try. Saying he or she doesn’t feel that way about me.
We kill possibilities and alternative options. Never giving them a chance to come to fruition. It’s entirely possible that our new job works out better than our current job. What if leaving your current boyfriend or girlfriend leads to you meeting the person of your dreams? Maybe that person you like has been waiting to confess their feelings to you as well? Amazing outcomes do happen and often when you let them.
The second thing we do is hedge. Hedging is what the people who claim they are authentic are actually doing. Basically, they place a limit on themselves based on outside conditions. Hedging is like conforming and then pretending that you are being consistent with your values. So now you say that you stay at your job because you love everyone there. You don’t have to love what you do because your coworkers make it a better place. You look for ways to make your relationship work compromising your wants. “I don’t really like going on dates that much anyway. being together is what’s important.” You don’t want to risk the friendship so you shut off your feelings, slowly dying inside every time they go on a date.
Hedging is the worst thing we can do. Instead of recognizing that we aren’t doing or living what or how we want to, we convince ourselves that that’s what we want. That’s not fair to yourself! And this is coming from personal experience.
I used to be the biggest hedger.
I remember the reason I got together with my second ever girlfriend was because I didn’t want a guy to stay the night at her house. She basically told me that if I didn’t want her to be my girlfriend then she was free to do whatever she wants. Instead of holding out for someone that wouldn’t ever put me in that position I decided I liked her enough to give it a try. That relationship ended three months later after she cheated on me. Go figure, probably should have waited, huh? In school, I dressed and talked like the cool kids instead of how I wanted to. At work, I told myself that my coworkers made jobs worthwhile. And I don’t even know how many social gatherings I went to when I’d rather be at home. But I’m supposed to be social right?
Things are different for me now.
If I were to evaluate my authenticity today I would say I’m 97 percent authentic. Do I still hedge from time to time? Sure, sometimes it’s just fucking easier to adult that way. But I do more of what I want to be doing than ever before. I run a blog which is like an introvert’s dream job. I can say what I want, how I want, where I want. Sometimes I spend hours at Starbucks writing and reading with my headphones blaring. If I go out it’s because I genuinely want to be out with friends. When I want to do something by myself I do and I don’t worry if it’s socially acceptable to have dinner by myself. I am my authentic introverted self and I embrace it.
So I ask again, are you being your authentic self?
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