Being authentic is in right now. How you feel about that is up to you. In fact, your definition of authenticity may not even align with someone else’s. Still, it is what people are striving for in a world that seems to be changing at breakneck speed. Here is the thing: if you choose to be truly authentic, you are going to have to take some very real risks.
Striving to be authentic doesn’t come cheaply. Oh, you may not spend a lot of money on the endeavor, but you will be investing heavily on an emotional level. And with that investment comes the risk of loss. Are you prepared for that loss?
Plurawl is a New York apparel brand aimed at the LatinX and Hispanic communities. One of the company’s most popular items is a LatinX t-shirt that lists the most and least desirable qualities of people striving to be authentic. It is an interesting read. Take a look, then come back and compare the most desirable qualities against the following three risks that must be taken to be truly authentic:
Risk #1: You Won’t Like You
The first and biggest risk of striving to be truly authentic is discovering that you don’t really like you. Now, that goes against conventional thinking. Most people who believe true authenticity is the key to a happy life insist that your authentic self is someone you will be happy with. They insist that if you are not happy, you’re not being truly authentic. For the record, I disagree.
I vividly remember who I was in my early twenties. I did not fake who I was. I was out there, and it wasn’t pretty. I also knew back then that I did not like myself. I knew that to successfully solve that problem, I needed to change who I was. So I did. Now I am generally happy to be the person I’ve become.
Risk #2: Others Won’t Like You
The next big risk of striving to be truly authentic is that others won’t like you. As a case in point, I recently read an article written by a female attorney who advocated true authenticity as a career advancement tool. She explained how it was superior to the older model of ‘leaning in’ to your job to get what you want.
I wholeheartedly agree with this attorney’s assessment. But I am willing to bet that some of her clients decided she did not live up to their expectations. They undoubtedly moved on. That’s okay if you’re prepared for it. The person you are at your core might be someone that drives others away. If you want to be truly authentic, you need to give them the freedom to feel that way. You bless, release, and move on.
Risk #3: You Will Never Stop Searching
Finally, the third risk of striving to be genuinely authentic is never ending your search for that person. For some people, searching for authenticity permanently stops when that person is found. But for others, the search is never ending. They keep searching for their authentic selves only to discover that people change. Their authentic selves are more elusive shadows than tangible people they can emulate.
None of this is to say that you should not pursue genuine authenticity. Again, how you feel about the concept is up to you. Just know that it is a lot easier to talk about authenticity than actually go out and live it. Human beings are complex creatures. Sometimes authenticity is a lot harder than it looks on the surface.