Be Your Authentic Self
Over the past year, I’ve been enamored by people who exist without requiring anyone’s approval. I looked at Issa Rae who though self-proclaimed awkward levied her awkwardness into her TV show, acting career, and production company Hoorae. Jennifer Lewis who at 19 grabbed a woman assisting her in an audition and told her if you fuck this up I’ll kill you. Who at 22 debuted on Broadway and has sustained an acting career for four decades. Now, we know her on Blaskish as Ruby.
Janet Mock’s authenticity landed her at People magazine as a staff editor. She then moved from, Marie Claire to The NYTimes Best Seller. Now she is the first Trans woman of color hired as a writer for a TV show and director of the phenomenal Pose. These Black Women work in an industry where No is the first response. Yet, they’ve been ushered in, they’ve excelled, and grown by being themselves. That observation and those particular women taught me a couple of things about authenticity ….
When you are authentic, your path typically meets you.
There was a certain pattern of yes’s and no’s that got Issa, Jennifer, and Janet where they are now. Those Yes’s and No’s came from their core, who they are, and who they thought they could be. As they made decisions from that space, their path revealed itself. Issa decided to write a web series about what she knew and it launched her career. Jennifer was always expressive and won a scholarship that propelled her to NY. Janet loved to write and she wrote, but when she spoke about her authentic self, she was propelled into the stratosphere.
As you become your most authentic self, your path typically meets you there. If you don’t believe me think about this, what if these women decided to morph into what they thought their community, friends, and family wanted? Their yes and No’s would look completely different, leading to another path. Now whether the path is good or bad, or worse off or better, we don’t know. We just know that it would be something different from who they are and what they have now.
Showing up authentically pays well.
People pay a lot of money to have these women on their shows because they have something special. You watch Insecure because of Issa’s perspective. You watch Jennifer Lewis because shows up on the screen and you have no choice but to remember her. We watch Pose because it’s a point of view we’ve never seen on TV. They are paid well because people want them in all of their glory and they are willing to pay top dollar just to get it. Not only does it pay monetarily but it feeds your happiness too.
This brings me to point #2 living inauthentically is an unhappy experience.
Have you agreed to do something you didn’t want to do? Like if your friends wanted to go to a party, and you want to stay in, but they beg you and you cave in and say yes. Then when you go everything kind of goes wrong and you are pissed about it. you tell yourself you should’ve stayed in and vow to never cave in again. That’s how living your life inauthentically feels. You are agreeing to everyone’s terms. If they give off active energy, you are meeting it. If they say they like this, you are agreeing to their terms. If they want to do (fill in the blank), you agree. There is nothing about this experience that is yours and you play along but secretly you are pissed about it.
As you neglect your needs to be amenable, you are engaging in one of the most energy-consuming tasks. You are splitting yourself in two. You are actively denying your urges/needs. You are anticipating other’s needs, and finally, you are adapting to them as if they are yours. So, now you have a split. You have a you that you suppress, deny its needs, and ignore and a you who adapts to everyone else. That is a confusing state of being and it is often the reason why you don’t know what you want, why you consult friends and is indecisive how can you know yourself when 85% of the time you are someone else and that person shifts depending on the audience.
Now I know you will say I have to be and do these things to get the things I want. This is how society is set up. It rewards certain behavior and ignores others. Now, that is true to an extent. Companies do tend to promote extroverts. They are more capable of obtaining funding. So, you may have to pump yourself up now and again for things you want, but don’t make that a state of being. The black professional who code-switches experiences racism and barriers that slow down their ascension. The woman who is firm at work is still called a bitch. The woman who is soft but tough can still become the mother. The truth is nothing changes people’s minds. They either want to do it, or they don’t. They either want to listen or they won’t. They either see you as valuable or they don’t. No amount of contortion will make people change their minds about you. If anything, it makes them suspicious of you because Who wants to trust someone whose values, morals, and personality change based on the company? Furthermore, don’t you want people to like you for you? Or give you opportunities because you are just so special. Or invite you because your humor is what they are missing. Or think of you because you are so damn unique.
It also points to self-esteem, self-worth, or core-belief issue.
You are hiding the person who you are now because you think something else is better or no one will like this person? Why do you think that? Why do you think you are not worthy of being seen? Why must you put on a mask to be liked, cared for, or interested in? What does it mean when you hide yourself to be liked? Or Valued?
Last year, I confronted these questions and realized it was far easier and more rewarding to be myself than to live as a double agent. So, how do you be your most authentic self?
1. Be compassionate to yourself.
a. You may not understand all of your emotions right away and that may frustrate the hell out of you. However, you’ve been living a double identity for a while now. It may initially be hard to differentiate your voice from the mask you’ve been used to wearing. So, be compassionate. Tell yourself it is ok and when you figure it out, you will act.
2. Be comfortable with no.
a. You have to stop being timid and fearful with the word no. No one is going to abandon you because you require a certain environment, need, or want to feel comfortable. And if by chance they do, do you want to truly work with, be with, or befriend someone comfortable with making you uncomfortable?
3. Accept yourself
a. You are not a burden. You aren’t asking for too much. You aren’t ruining the mood. You aren’t doing too much. you are a person. Every person on this earth has requirements. Every person on earth has a unique personality. People have made room for all of these individuals and they will make room for you.
4. Be ok with disdain, awkwardness, and insecurity
a. Lying is very common. So, when folks come in contact with authentic people they either admire it or disdain it. people with weak boundaries often disdain it. They either see it as an attack on them or an indictment on their character. This is where you have to be comfortable with other folks’ awkwardness. They think by having a hissy fit it’ll change your mind, but it won’t so be ok with these reactions wait it out, be quiet, keep confirming no, but don’t let people convince you by having a meltdown.
5. You can make being authentic a process
a. Some folks hear my talking points and jump up the next day and start saying no to everything. Now that’s great, but it can adverse effects. So, roll out your true self. Start with articulating your taste and build up. Eventually, you will feel comfortable with descension and people will have opened up some more space for you.