Truly authentic people have an ease about them that makes them instantly likable. They seem to know who they are and they appear comfortable in whatever circumstances they face.
A lot of people yearn for that authenticity. They seek to become a more genuine person so they don’t have to spend so much time worrying how they fit in.
Yet, many people won’t ever become truly authentic. And quite often, it’s because they believe these three big misconceptions about what it means to really be authentic:
- Being Comfortable in Your Own Skin Means Acting the Same in All Circumstances
About 10 years ago, self-help gurus were shouting from the hilltops that loving yourself means acting the same all the time, regardless of where you are or who you are with. Otherwise, it’d be impossible to be comfortable in your own skin.
But just as the idea rose in popularity, social media emerged and Facebook users began to realize that the idea that you should always act the same wasn’t all it was cracked up to be.
In fact, studies have shown how social media can increase your stress because you have to decide how to present yourself to people from all facets of your life. Researchers have found the more Facebook friends you have, the more stressed out you’re likely to be because there’s a greater chance that you’ll offend someone.
The truth: While you shouldn’t change your personality like a chameleon depending on who is in the room, you can present yourself appropriate to the situation you’re in. Using a professional demeanor in a job interview and presenting a more relaxed version of yourself at a cocktail party doesn’t mean you’re fake.
It means you’re socially appropriate. You can still be completely authentic while also being aware of how you present yourself to others.
- Your Values Always Stay the Same
A lot of people think if you’re authentic, your values will remain the same all the time. It’s a concept that has been shared by a variety of CEOs and popular psychology professionals.
There is some merit in that idea. Changing your values because your latest romantic partner believes in something different, or giving up on certain values just because it’s hard to live by them, isn’t authentic. But that doesn’t mean your values can’t change over time.
The truth: As your life circumstances change, there’s a good chance your values may shift. Your 40-year-old self will hopefully have learned a lot since the days of the college dorm. As your career takes off, your family grows, and you recognize what really matters in your life, your values may change.
As long as your behavior is in line with your beliefs, you’re being authentic. So as your beliefs shift, so should your priorities. Adjusting your life so you can live according to your values is true authenticity.
- Being Authentic Means Being Brutally Honest
Some people try to excuse rude behavior by saying, “I’m just being honest.” But there’s a difference between being truthful and being inconsiderate.
Just because you don’t like your co-worker’s new shoes doesn’t mean you have to share your opinion. And just because you aren’t a fan of your sister’s new boyfriend doesn’t mean you need to tell him you don’t like him.
But so many people say things like, “I’m not fake. If I don’t like you I’m going to tell you,” as if sharing their displeasure somehow means they’re authentic.
The truth: Being kind and considerate–even when you might not like someone–is a social skill. It doesn’t make you ‘two-faced.’
The way you treat other people speaks volumes about who you are. So don’t fool yourself into thinking that speaking your mind makes you genuine. Instead, if you want others to see you as being ‘real,’ focus on showing compassion without passing judgment.