How You Can Become Your Authentic Self
Becoming our authentic selves is one of the hardest journey's we can embark on. It takes courage and strength to face the fear of freedom in the face.
I will never forget the day I decided to become a fake version of myself. I was only seven years of age, and I loved watching Power Rangers. Upon joining a new school, it was time to make new friends.
My first day in the playground was tough. I forced myself to play football with some of the boys. Thankfully, I managed to score a goal, and they started speaking with me.
And then, it happened. Whilst on the way in from lunch, one of the boys asked me if I watched Dragon Ball Z. Now, my mother restricted me from watching violent shows because I was already quite an angry child. However, it was at this point I had the choice to lie or tell the truth.
Of course, innocent me told the complete truth. I was even happy about it. With great excitement I said,
“My mum does not let me watch that, but I like Power Rangers.”
All of sudden, the whole world seemed to stop. The young boy shouted,
“Hey, you never guess what? The new kid watches Power Rangers.”
All the boys in my class started laughing at me. They thought it was a childish show, and from that point on, I had to earn their respect. I was always the last picked and had to work hard to get in with the cool kids.
Eventually, I became one of them, but I learned very quickly to never show my true self. And it did not take long until my anxiety drove me to live a life of fear towards my true self.
For many of us, we believe our inauthenticity is routed in our fear to be left out. However, it is deeper than that. Your fear to be your true self is found in your fear to be free. At first, you may think this makes no sense. After all, we all love our freedom.
But to be truly free is a scary thing. And for most of us, we live a freedom that is not free at all. Here is how I found my true freedom and became my authentic self.
Why Freedom Is Not as Wonderful as It Appears
In the great words of Jean-Paul Sartre:
“Man is condemned to be free; because once thrown into the world, he is responsible for everything he does.”
Even if you do not believe in the idea of free will and a soul, you do agree that we are all free to make choices. Life, in some sense, is the sum of the choices we decide to make. Give or take a few shockers that catch us by surprise.
As an existentialist, Jean-Paul Sartre argued that humans are free yet live in anguish because of it. On a deep level, we know that every single choice we make is held against us. Of course, small choices like what to eat for breakfast may not feel as daunting. However, choosing a career path can certainly feel nerve-wracking.
Although we all, to some degree, enjoy our choices, the responsibility for each choice lies on us. And the fear of that responsibility can lead to a life where we no longer want to choose for ourselves.
Like my seven-year-old self, I let the other boys choose the shows I should be watching. The responsibility of being who I was became too much to bear at that present moment.
When we look at freedom in this way, it no longer looks like an open field to run across. Instead, it is a dark forest with no direction to go but every turning feeling uncertain.
I say the feeling is not certain because our desire to be authentic can often feel like this. When we choose to conform to one set of ideals, we offend others who do not appreciate our true selves.
Freedom is a hard thing to navigate. There is no map, direction or even goal to achieve. As humans, we enjoy the idea of structure and plans because it makes us feel safe. There is no wonder why our society is built on structures, ideals and philosophies.
Although freedom is something we believe we want, we certainly do not appear to act it out. When I was inauthentic, every ounce of me seemed to conform to others, even though I believed I was myself. The fear of freedom held me back. The idea of not having a map or direction left me to flee to the herd rather than trod my own path.
Facing Your Fear of Freedom
So there it was, authenticity staring me right in the face. Like I described earlier, there was no map or direction. No one to tell me what to do or where to go. I had to become fully responsible for who I was going to become.
At least before, I could blame my problems on others. I could even relate with others who were living sad lives because I was sad too. But being my authentic self left me as the one to blame. There were no cutting corners or taking shortcuts. If I was unhappy, it was my fault.
Initially, this is what authenticity feels like. It is a life where you are fully responsible with no one to turn to for your character and who you have become. It is all you, and that is what we ask for when we ask to be free.
You can become authentic by choosing to desire responsibility instead of conformity. When we conform, we feel as though the fault of living an upsetting life is no longer our own.
After all, if I can say everyone was doing it, it does not feel too bad. But it is essential to recognise that choosing not to be authentic is still a choice all the same. For every choice we make, we suffer the weight of all the choices we could have made.
Being authentic is no longer being an observer and letting others decide your life. It is taking ownership of yourself, even if you have not found out what that is yet.
I chose to become authentic because it is better to live a life trying to discover who you are than never knowing at all.
So, what do you choose?
I am a Visionary and Writer who seeks to enrich society by challenging how we do business today to lead to a world of better leaders and opportunities tomorrow.