Authenticity has been a core value of mine since I understood what values even were. Until it became a buzzword for people who quite often weren’t actually authentic at all and it all felt a bit cringe ha.
Authenticity will also have a different meaning to each individual person too.
It might mean trustworthiness.
It might mean honesty.
It might mean saying what you think without concern.
It might simply mean the opposite of fake to you. (I hugely struggle with fakery which is probably one of the reasons it’s so important to me.)
It might encapsulate all those things.
Often in the workplace people are told to be their authentic selves but that can get confusing if it’s delivered without clarification.
It can feel like, ‘be yourself but…on our terms.’
In online businesses people are always told ‘be authentic’ you’ll attract more people. And it’s true, but it’s also nuanced.
There will be times when you feel like you can’t give all of yourself because there are personal things going on that need to or should remain personal.
So what does authenticity look like when you can’t share everything. Maybe there’s ill health in the family, a situation that involves someone else. Legal issues. Your own health battles. There are so many reasons that you might feel like you can’t or don’t want to share what’s going on for you.
Also, should you ever feel like you have to share everything in order to be authentic?
I can’t tell you the answer to that but I encourage you to reflect on it.
For me authenticity is the ability to truly be oneself.
To be able to live authentically to me means not feeling like you have to hide anything and accepting all parts of you. Including loving the parts of yourself that are harder to love, because we all have those. And also knowing you don’t HAVE to share everything with everyone if that’s what’s authentic to you in that moment. It’s the self awareness to know where you’re at and what you need.
I spent a lot of time in my youth feeling like I couldn’t be myself. Like if I was truly myself then people wouldn’t like me.
I felt like I didn’t fit.
So I people pleased a lot, in terms of more often than not going along with what other people wanted and not speaking up for myself and what was important for me.
I let go of things I was interested in and loved doing because I thought it made me ‘different’ or ‘weird’.
I was absolutely, fully, completely uncomfortable in my own skin which made authenticity feel almost impossible because it was terrifying.
This didn’t lead to any kind of happiness. It led to feeling like I had to hide parts of myself. There were a few select people I could really be myself with and not worry they would judge me. People who were the same brand of weird as me!
As if parts of myself were unlovable and had to be kept secret.
I don’t think I even really knew who I was myself. I knew who I thought I should be to be acceptable to others.
It wasn’t a fun way to be and is something I put a lot of time and energy into healing.
Because of this, being authentic is hugely important to me.
In two ways.
Being authentic AS myself to make sure i’m always surrounded by the right people, being true to who I am and not ever feeling like I have to hide parts of me for fear of judgement or being unloveable.
And being authentic FOR myself. Advocating for myself. Knowing my values and boundaries and making sure I’m prioritising things I love and that make me feel good, playful, joyful and myself.
I now know that the more authentic I am the more the right people and opportunities come my way.
So, it’s not a secret that for the last few months I’ve been dealing with HUGE changes in my life (which are of course leading to the almighty glow up!)
I’ve been feeling like I can’t talk about them or what’s going on because it’s really not right that I do just yet, and therefore i’ve been struggling to figure out how to navigate all that AND feel authentic. Which meant my annual end of December first half of January social media hiatus went on for WAY longer than originally planned.
Talking on the podcast and to my email list felt a lot more doable so I didn’t totally disappear. I just came off social media.
It’s a funny one because the hiatus was absolutely what I needed for a hot minute to create some space for healing so it WAS authentic to me.
The difficulty was when I felt like I wanted to come back and didn’t really know how to do that AND be respectful to other people in my life AND show up authentically myself.
It has been a conundrum!!
And I think I’ve figured it out.
So last week I ended my hiatus after having some incredibly lovely messages from people for the last few weeks telling me they missed my content and asking if I was ok.
As always I try to turn personal experiences into something helpful, practical and actionable for you too so hopefully I manage that today because I feel like this is something a lot of people struggle with.
Whether in the office or in your business feeling like you have to ‘show up’ on social media there will be times where your humanity takes the front row seat.
There are inevitably going to be times where big life stuff happens and it’s not appropriate or you simply don’t want to share it.
The big question is how to navigate that while maintaining your authenticity.
And it’s a delicate one that I’m learning in real time and I don’t pretend to know all the answers.
However, there are a few thought processes I’ve had and things that I’ve done that have helped me start to feel like I’m getting my mojo and rhythm back and I thought I’d share it with you.
The first thing is to remember you don’t OWE anyone anything. Your life is YOUR life and you should never feel pressured to share something before you’re ready.
I navigated this one by letting people know SOMETHING was going on and that I couldn’t say more publicly. I shared in places I felt comfortable. For me that was to my email list and here on the podcast. There’s something about owning the narrative and knowing that some people might be annoyed with the cloak and dagger but that MOST people will understand and be patient with you. I also replied to anyone who reached out and was happy to tell them.
Recognise where people’s need to know comes from. Anyone who does get annoyed with you not sharing or holding something back is probably not doing it from a place of having your best interests at heart. So let them move on.
Please don’t concern yourself over losing people who aren’t willing to have compassion and understanding. They aren’t your people.
Know your values. The more you know your values and can stay strong to them in general will always help you be more authentic. Even when there’s something you have to hold back. When you talk with authenticity it really does shine through. People will feel it coming from a genuine place.
When it comes to authenticity, know, lean into and own your strengths and weaknesses. This is more of a general comment on how to make sure you’re able to cultivate authenticity in your life.
Be clear on your boundaries. No one can push you into sharing what’s not right for you to share. Or doing something you’re not comfortable with. Know your boundaries and know they are absolutely valid.
Do what works for YOU!
Maintain high levels of self awareness. However you choose to do this. Whether it’s journaling, mindfulness, meditation or something else.
You’ll find that the more aware of yourself you are, the less your ego will get involved and the more calm, confident and comfortable you are being authentically you.
Share what you’re comfortable sharing, with who you’re comfortable sharing with. Lean on your support system. Even if there might be one please you might feel like you can’t be completely authentic, make sure there are plenty of places you can.
An important thing I think when it comes to authenticity is to do what you say you’ll do and if you can no longer do it, communicate that. When you stick to your word it does WONDERS for your self esteem.
For me, letting people know something huge was going on behind the scenes was important in me navigating being able to come back onto social media.
Like I say, if people can’t bear not knowing what it is they aren’t your people. Stay within the perimeters of what you’re comfortable with.
Be honest with yourself. So, so important. Being able to challenge yourself with curiosity and be super clear on who you are and what is authentic to you.
Always, always continue working on your self awareness. Authenticity comes alongside self acceptance.
The more authentic you’re able to be, the more your anxiety will reduce. The more solid you’ll feel in yourself.
Joseph Campbell said, ‘The privilege of a lifetime is being who you are.’ And as someone who used to struggle to find anything they liked about themselves, I wholeheartedly agree.
Life begins when you can truly be you! And if you’ve been feeling like you can’t be completely authentic right now because you’ve got big personal stuff going on then I hope this has helped. You will figure out how you can stick to your values and boundaries and still feel like you don’t have to hide.
Sending you a huge hug.
Fran Excell, Success Mindset Mentor at www.franexcell.com – Helping Business Owners & Executives Overcome Stress & Self Sabotage so they can get back their time, get off the emotional rollercoaster and feel more in control.
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