The other night Hans came across a great quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson.
“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.”
He knew the quote would resonate because as an INFJ on the Myers-Briggs I place a premium on authenticity.
The quote sparked thoughts about the personal cost of inauthenticity and these five significant consequences.
You can only be the best version of yourself.
It was Judy Garland who said, “Always be a first-rate version of yourself, instead of a second-rate version of somebody else.” That second-rate version part is one of the sad consequences of living an inauthentic life.
I have a friend who is intelligent, remarkably talented, funny ( I mean, no one can make me laugh the way she does), and incredibly insightful. But if you met her, you’d probably never see any of these qualities. Instead, you’d see the second-rate version she shows to most people as she contorts to fit in and waters herself down. All because she’s afraid to show up in the world as who she really is.
I know this for sure: The inauthentic version of you is always, always second rate.
It’s exhausting trying to be someone you’re not.
I know a woman who is chameleon-like in her attempts to be liked by everyone. Mingling in a room of people, she’ll match her mood, energy, likes, dislikes, opinions, and interests to whomever she happens to be talking with at the moment. Recently she confided to me she finds her life exhausting. Well no wonder.
It’s exhausting trying to be liked by everyone—not to mention impractical and impossible. Also, it begs the question: What’s it worth being well liked if you’re not being yourself? The price of authenticity is not everyone is going to like you. Deal with it.
Believe me: It’s a small price to pay, and you’re going to have a lot more energy when you stop trying to be someone you’re not and start being who you really are.
Your needs and wants get lost in the equation.
In her book, I Know I’m in There Somewhere: A Woman’s Guide to Finding Her Inner Voice and Living a Life of Authenticity, psychologist Helene Brenner talks about the impulse many women feel to accommodate, adapt, and mold themselves to serve others at their own expense. What’s all that accommodating, adapting, and molding getting you? If you’re doing it at your own expense, what price are you paying and where are you in the equation?
Brenner says, “I call this a self-acceptance’ book, rather than a self-improvement’ book because I truly believe that you don’t have to change or fix or improve yourself in order to be happy. I believe that living a fulfilled life comes from learning how to listen to your inner voice, to the truth of your inner being in all of the ways that it speaks to you, and to live from it.”
There’s no doubt that authenticity and self-acceptance go hand in hand. There’s also no doubt that YOU have to be part of the equation if you are to live a life of authenticity.
You are the only one who can bring your unique gifts and talents to the world.
What a loss it is—for you and for the world—when this doesn’t happen. Do you give lip service to everyone being unique, but then act like you have nothing special to offer? It’s this simple: If you don’t show up in your life and in the world—if the real and full you doesn’t show up—then everyone misses out. You certainly miss out. But so does everyone you come in contact with.
I’ve lost count of the times I’ve been met with a blank stare when asking someone to tell me about their strengths, gifts, and talents. Why is everyone walking around as if they don’t bring anything special to the table? We all do! Living authentically is the conduit for bringing your gifts and talents to the world.
So take a deep breath, cast off the sagging shoulders of “There’s nothing particularly special about me,” and bring what you’ve got! The world is waiting and the world needs what only you can offer.
There’s nothing guaranteed to make life more challenging than when the YOU who shows up is not the real you.
Goals are certainly more difficult to achieve when they’re out of alignment with your authentic Self. When you live from a place that is inauthentic, crucial conversations are avoided and you develop a pattern of keeping silent instead of communicating. You tend to keep parts of yourself hidden away, thereby denying yourself support and accountability.
Imagine how just this short list of consequences around goal achievement, communication, and support erode what’s possible and chip away at the probability of you living your best life.
Life doesn’t have to be so hard, and a first step to making it easier is to choose to live from your authentic Self.
Do you value authenticity? Are there authenticity gaps in the life you’re living?
In writing this post, I came across many wonderful quotes about authenticity. For all you quote lovers out there, here are a few favorites:
The privilege of a lifetime is to become who you truly are. —C.G. Jung
No one man can, for any considerable time, wear one face to himself, and another to the multitude, without finally getting bewildered as to which is the true one. —Nathaniel Hawthorne
Only the truth of who you are, if realized, will set you free. —Eckhart Tolle
To be nobody but myself—in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make me somebody else—means to fight the hardest battle any human can fight, and never stop fighting. —e.e. cummings