Being an Authentic Person: When What I See in the Mirror is My True Self

· March 10, 2018

We’re used to living in a world of fake images, futile attempts to be someone we’re not, and intense pressure to measure up to ideals that most of us can’t meet. In this chaotic world, the question we should be asking ourselves is, “What about being an authentic person?” At the very least, we should be trying to fight the “need” to match up to unattainable ideals.

Even as adults, we try to be someone we’re not

From the time we’re young, we’re taught to play specific roles, as if we were in a family sitcom playing every Wednesday night. The roles we’re given are easy to see in any school setting, and they’re also extremely evident in the world of team sports, like volleyball or basketball, where players are assigned specific positions. We start assigning roles to children from the time they’re very little.

Maria is going to be the successful one (She can’t fail!),…William is going to be the class clown (He can’t be serious for one second!)… Elisa is going to be the weird loner (Is it because she wants to be alone, or is it inevitable because of her label as the weird kid in class?)…

In school — just like in adult life — we play parts that are imposed on us and are practically impossible to break out of. True, these roles often help us to survive and navigate this jungle of life. However, other times they’re anything but helpful. These roles can inflict irreparable damage on us with consequences we struggle to see, even as adults. They force you to relinquish the original, authentic person you are.

Being an authentic person as pictured by a string game.

Giving up being an authentic person can cost us dearly

The price we pay when we abdicate the authentic person we are may include:

  • Physical health issues
  • Feeling empty inside
  • Constantly feeling frustrated, no matter what we’re doing
  • Living with our deepest needs left unfulfilled

But… to live as an authentic person, first we have to be honest with ourselves. We have to recognize that every day we’re drifting further and further away from our true selves. Once we get this awareness, we can begin to focus all our energy into finding our unique, primal essence.

When we’re aware of our most essential needs, we can satisfy them in an honest and healthy way. If I know that I need affection when I’m not doing well emotionally or physically, but I’m “the strong one” of the family and “I can’t show my need because my family depends on me being strong,” maybe I should start thinking about what it is that I really need: continuing along this path or recognizing my feelings and asking for help?
“The smartest thing you can do is get to know yourself, the bravest thing you can do is be yourself, and the thing which is most impossible to do is change your personality while staying true to to yourself.”      -Patrick Rothfuss-
A woman looking at herself in a hand mirror.
Bit by bit, tiny acts of self-love and authenticity can give us back the immense power we lose when we desperately try to be cookie-cutter. Trying to reach an ideal that isn’t our own is costly and it does nothing for our happiness.

It’s like trying to go up an incredibly steep hill. Your legs are going to ache, and you’ll need to take breaks and recover every so often. The exhaustion is going to be brutal. And you’re going to be constantly plagued with a sense of meaninglessness. Working up to living as an authentic person can be just as — or even more — difficult, because you’ll sometimes have to fight against the current.

However, there are rewards along the path of becoming an authentic person. We won’t have to summon the motivation to resolve the dissonance between what we feel and the future we imagine for ourselves. We can breathe pure air and stop feeling like we’re drowning. We’re free to stop because we want to, and not because the weight of self-betrayal forces us to a stop.

The path to becoming an authentic person, really, is a long, sincere walk with yourself. It’s an act of bravery. It’s the most loving and respectful thing that you can possibly do for yourself.

Not only will your relationships improve since you’re not going to fake it anymore, but you’ll also start to respect yourself and respect other people’s true selves as well. Do you dare embark on the journey towards being an authentic person? You don’t have anything to lose!