The Sweet Spot: Living a Life of Authenticity
Let’s take some time, maybe a minute or two, and
imagine the perfect place where you can exist being your most authentic loving
self without fear, regret, worry, hate, etc. How do you look? What are you wearing?
What kinds of things are you doing? Are there people you’re talking to? What
does this place look like? Is it familiar? How does it feel like to be in this
utopian space? What do you see? Are there particular or familiar smells? How
does it make you feel, imagining this perfect world?
Utopias are societies where communities exist in
harmony with no divisions or divisiveness. Doesn’t that sound ideal? It’s no
surprise that as Pride has come and gone, I think about my own ideal society.
One where everyone is free to be their own genuine, honest, transparent self
without apologies, restraints, or labels. A utopia where everyone lives
authentically and is at peace with themselves as well as the world around them.
For the LGBT+ person, living authentically is
probably one of life’s biggest challenges. We live in such a hyper-competitive,
judgmental and critical world and that takes a toll. We’re bombarded from birth
with homophobic messages. Whether it was about sexuality, gender norms or
gender expression, the message was the same. We’re unacceptable. We’re judged
every moment and we are found lacking.
And that’s where living authentically comes in.
The world doesn’t embrace the kind of self-awareness that living authentically
requires, and it’s not something we’re taught. It’s something we must actively
create in our own lives.
Living a life of authenticity requires you to
really know yourself. Not just who you are, but who you want to be, both in
what you value and what you stand for. And here’s the hard part—it means you
have to accept all of you...the good and the not so good and all the
imperfections that come with being human. Instead of hiding behind a mask, living
authentically forces you to not only acknowledge all that you’re made of, but
to celebrate it. You aren’t just
accepting who you are, you’re reveling in it.
This means that being authentic requires vulnerability, and ultimately, requires
being genuine. In a culture that emphasizes a “Fake it till you make it”
mentality, there is no better time than now on learning how to live more
authentically. But how do we do this?
1. Live the life you love, not the one you think
society accepts. Begin to act in a way that aligns with your values, beliefs, likes
and dislikes. If it isn’t you to attend the biggest soirees, stop attending. Or
only attend when it feels right. People pigeonhole themselves and don’t allow
themselves the latitude to do what feels right in the moment. Just because it
didn’t feel right yesterday doesn’t mean it’s not right today. Above all, be
genuine to who you are.
2. Accept your strengths and your weaknesses. Sorry
to be the party pooper, but you can’t be amazing and perfect at everything!
Just be yourself because nobody can do that. And be your own ideal, not someone
3. Allow yourself to be vulnerable. If that’s
uncomfortable to you, start small. Find someone you feel comfortable with and
allow them to see your vulnerable side. Or better yet, take a risk and put
yourself out there and let others see who you really are. It’s freeing just
allowing yourself to be. If you want more intimacy in your life, take a chance
and be vulnerable.
4. Dump the homophobic messages you received
growing up. These aren’t yours to carry anymore. Imagine yourself writing these
messages on a piece of paper and tossing them into open flames. It’s time to
release this baggage because it’s weighing you down and creating obstacles to
5. Make a note when you’re acting inauthentic.
Take some time to reflect on these experiences. Get to know yourself at a
deeper level and what might have driven you to act inauthentic. When we have a
deeper understanding of who we are, we can tell when we aren’t living according
to our own values and beliefs. In those moments, have the courage to examine your behavior and reflect on the experience so you can identify the triggers
and better arm yourself against them in the future. Gaining self-knowledge is
so important in becoming more authentic.
6. Take some time with guided meditation. Guided
meditation is a deep state of relaxation by the use of a guide. This is usually
a calming experience and will open your mind. Having an open mind typically
allows a person to see the bigger picture and many perspectives. So often we
can find ourselves getting stuck in a rut because of how we might view or think
about ourselves, others, and the world. If this is something you resonate with,
mediate and you might be surprised to learn some things about yourself!
Living authentically requires a great deal of
work, but overtime, you’ll soon find that just being yourself is pretty easy. I
think Brené Brown sums it up quite well when she says, “Authenticity is a
collection of choices that we have to make every day. It’s about the choice to
show up and be real. The choice to be honest. The choice to let our true selves
be seen.” I’m learning that there’s nothing sweeter in life than living a life
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