What does it mean to become your authentic self…to find your true self? How can you even become something if you don’t know what it is, and aren’t even sure it exists? You need to ask yourself from a place of complete honesty: are you living your truth?
Do you believe that you are fundamentally good and deserving of love, respect and kindness? Oh, this is a tough one: love yourself. In a world where self-improvement mantras lurk in every magazine article, every selfie and every book on ‘being the best you can be”, sometimes I wonder where self-acceptance and love comes into play. So you get pissed off sometimes! Your nose will never look like Cindy Crawford’s! You just. don’t. like. foreign. movies. Accept that you have 10 pounds that you’d (one day) like to lose (or not). Accept who you are right now, and forgive yourself for all your constant admonishments to better yourself.
Steps to Discovering Your Authentic Self
First of all, stop doubting yourself.
Stop doubting that your ideas are dumb and that nobody thinks they’re worthwhile. Voice your truth, speak clearly so there’s no misunderstanding–you can say what you believe, if you want. Stop worrying that people are going to think you’re weird, or too outspoken, or too loud, or just slightly annoying. Are you loud and funny? Are you shy and introverted? It’s all good. You are good. Stop worrying that you should be different, or that you need to change to fit in. You are okay just the way you are. But you need to believe that, to the core of your being. And if someone tries to tell you otherwise, you need to tell them they’re wrong or walk away.
Second: Remember your dreams.
Do you remember what you dreamed about when you were a child? Do you remember who you wanted to become? What kind of life you truly believed, actually KNEW, you would lead? I do. First off, I remember being supremely confident and that I could do anything I set my mind to. That if I worked hard enough, and wanted something badly enough, it would happen. I was very passionate about my beliefs (I almost said “too passionate” and then I checked myself) and people sometimes found that off-putting. And over time, I began putting a lid on my emotions. I began to check myself (“whoops, not the audience for that conversational topic!”) And part of that was growing up, and maturing. But part of that was….I don’t know. I began to think that maybe who I was, and how I wanted to be in the world, somehow wasn’t quite a fit with the world at large.
Third: Remember a time when you felt most at home in your own body.
Remember when you fully acceptable and loved just for who you were? Not because of any external reward or motivation, like winning a contest or someone’s approval but because there was just a sense of……peace. Satisfaction. Contentedness, like all the stars aligned and things just felt so very right.
Maybe it happened when you were writing a poem, or walking on the beach, or running a 5K. Maybe it happened when you were giving a presentation to a group of people on a topic you felt passionate about. Maybe it happened when you weren’t actually DOING or ACCOMPLISHING anything at all! Perhaps you were reading a book and the light hit just right and a breeze kicked up and the water you were sipping tasted so good and….Something just clicked. Can you find out what triggered that feeling? Was it acceptance? Was it joy? Was it self-love?
On some level we’ve all changed, of course. Sometimes in good ways and sometimes in ways that may not quite be what we intended. Maybe you feel that you needed to conform, and thereby changed. Maybe you felt you needed to “grow up” and “get serious” about life, and so you let go of your child-like side–playful, goofy, funny, ridiculous. Whether it’s for a job, or a spouse, or to get into that top notch graduate program, we all change. And gradually those changes, even the small ones, began to add up. We take a step back and think “Who IS this person?”. Did we change too much in a direction that doesn’t feel right and true? If we’re aware, that can be the moment that we begin to reconnect with our true selves, our authentic selves.
Who are YOU? What makes your heart sing? What resonates inside you to the core of your being?