“The privilege of a lifetime is to become who you truly are”- Carl Jung. This quote sums up the importance of growing into your authentic self. Your authentic self is who you truly are as a person, regardless of your occupation, regardless of the influence of others, it is an honest representation of you. To be authentic means not caring what others think about you. This may sometimes lead to you standing out from the crowd. To be authentic is to be true to yourself through your thoughts, words and actions. It means being able to sacrifice any relationship, situation or circumstance that diverges from your truth. For example, if you are in a job or relationship that does not make you happy or makes you act differently to who you truly are, you leave it.
However, this is easier said than done. It is a difficult task to define your authentic self because you don’t just have one self; there are multiple versions of who you are. There is the self you are at work, the self you are with your best friend, the self you are with your family and the self you are with strangers. These “invented selves” are normal, and it’s something we all do to some degree. Authenticity is not about expressing your opinions all the time without filters- it’s about confidentiality knowing what those opinions are. Being authentic isn’t just about being honest, it’s also about being self-aware, being humble, and taking feedback from others. It is about answering the question- “Who am I?”.
A major aspect of being your authentic self is following your passion. As we get older, it’s easy to acquire a habit of doing things just to please others. When we do this, we are not being true to ourselves, leaving us unsure of what it is that truly makes us happy. An example would be a daughter following in the footsteps of her mother who is a teacher because her mother has engrained in her that this is a good stable job. But this may not be what the girl truly wants to do.
As children we are our most authentic selves. We are creative, imaginative and impulsive, we do what makes us truly happy, and we express freely how we are feeling. Think back to when you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up? Regardless of the reasons behind your answer it is what you really wanted at that time. We question less as kids, and careless about what others think of us and our choices. As children we do things based on our feelings and our likes and dislikes. However, as we grow older, something changes. We move from doing things we want, to doing things we should.
It is important to take time out to reflect on who you think you really are, what or who has influenced where you are now and how does that differ or connect with what you used to want to do. Growing into your authentic self can lead to better coping strategies, a stronger sense of self-worth and more confidence.
Written by Rebekka Johnston