Authenticity. WHO are you?
Authenticity? What’s it all about, and why do we need it in our life?
It’s a word you’ve probably seen on a hundred inspirational Memes and a in spiritual/motivational quotes everywhere, but why is it so important?
Some people travel through life without ever embracing or prioritizing Authenticity. They’ll act and behave in certain ways either because they believe it will help their connections – the classic ‘people pleaser’ – or because they are fulfilling a stereotype or a label that has been assigned to them, and so feel compelled to act accordingly – the ‘role player’ – again usually to help them fit in or feel wanted.
Yet, these are often the very people who struggle to make deep connections and maintain meaningful relationships. They often feel as though something is missing, and are often dissatisfied with life.
Let me tell you about Jon…
Jon – a lover of comic books and a keen guitar player – moved schools just after his 14th birthday, due to his parents relocating for work. He left behind a group of friends he’d grown up with and found himself starting again in a new town.
The new school was much larger than his old one, and not knowing anyone (being the stranger from the outside, the new kid) Jon initially found it difficult to fit in.
What he saw in the School was a group of Boys who enjoyed playing football (soccer). They looked like they were having fun so he thought he’d try to join in. Jon had never played, or even been interested in football before. The first question he was asked…
“What team do you support?”
He only knew the name of one team, and so not wanting to sound stupid he said… “Manchester United, of course.”
“Yeah, same as Jack. Who’s their best player?”
“Who do you think?” Said Jon.
“It’s definitely Beckham.”
“Yes.” Said Jon “I agree. He’s great.”
He then started mixing with these boys every day. He ended up being put in goal because he wasn’t very good at football, but he’d discovered something and developed an important belief; If he pretended to like the same things as other people, they’d like him back. This gave him some emotional satisfaction of fitting in, of being part of a group.
At college Jon again struggled to fit in, but he noticed a group of people who like to skateboard. Remembering the belief he’d developed in school he tagged along, even though he’d never skated before, or had any interest in it. He bought a Skate Board and learned a few tricks, which impressed his new friends – adding further validation to the belief.
He started to wear similar clothing to them, listening to the same music and even got his lip pierced because it was ‘cool’.
For University Jon moved far away from home and so again had to make new friends. It was easier to socialize at university because of the party culture. Despite not having much interest in alcohol before, Jon found himself getting drunk most nights, partying with a group of people from his year group. While out partying he even met a couple of girls and had his first experiences with physical relationships – this felt like a validation that he was doing something right.
The belief that he could adjust his behavior to fit in with the crowd, so that other people would like him became more and more reinforced.
Because of the partying Jon didn’t get the grades he’d hoped for, but he still passed and managed to get an average job in IT. The culture of the company was very organised and methodical with lots of individual, isolated tasks and little socialising.
With nothing to do in his evenings Jon started using an on-line dating App. At first he didn’t get many matches so he tried to make himself look and sound more interesting and embellished both his earnings and his popularity. He posted pictures of himself in the middle of business parties (which he didn’t enjoy), attending Manchester United Football matches (which he was only at to please his old friends) and standing in front of expensive sports cars (which he didn’t even like, much less own).
He struck up a few short term relationships before meeting Kerry. He initially told her he was a junior partner and on their first few dates he took her to some very expensive restaurants – which he put on his credit card as he couldn’t really afford them.
Roll on ten years and they are married with two young children. Jon now in his mid thirties is still in the same career position, and has lost contact with all his old school and uni ‘friends’. He feels disconnected with life, unhappy and unfulfilled. He thinks he loves his wife, but they argue all the time about money and his debts.
Despite spending his life trying to fit in, following the beliefs he’d adopted in school, he has no real friends, no deep connections, and he doesn’t know where everything went wrong. He blames his situation on his job, his marriage, the economy – but can’t see how anything could be different. He just doesn’t feel passionate about anything in life any more.
He’s based all his relationships on a lie. It’s a lie he’s told himself. Over and over, until it’s become a belief.
“I need to be someone else for people to like me – I’m not good enough as I am.”
He hasn’t picked up his guitar, or read a comic book in years…
We all have a deep need for connection, for belonging, and to feel part of something larger than ourselves.
If you prioritize Authenticity and go through life being 100% true to yourself, then the people you build relationships with, the people who are attracted to you, the people who will be drawn into your world, will be Your people. Your Tribe.
They’ll like you for being You. They’ll have similar likes and aspirations.
They’ll connect with You, not with some label you’re fulfilling or role you’re playing to please someone else.
If you’re having to change yourself, or behave in a certain way to get someone else to like you, is it really You they like? Or just their image of you in their mind?
Is basing your happiness on being someone different, to keep someone else happy really a smart plan?
Be Real. Know Yourself. Prioritize Authenticity, and see what happens…
You, Are good enough! Start when you’re ready.
And if you’re not sure how or where to start, let’s talk…