In the last post we looked at being kind, and being yourself, online. Today I would like to explore further the topic of authenticity.
Everywhere we look today, clever marketers and social media influencers are trying to manipulate us, albeit subtly. We are constantly bombarded with messages about how we should be thinking, acting, dressing and working. And we follow blindly, without stopping to question why we are being gently coerced in a particular direction.
The alternative, authenticity and being yourself, has been heavily criticised in numerous blog posts and journal articles but I for one strongly believe that this is the most appropriate way to lead your life.
Everyone seems to be “faking it” until they “make it”. At the same time, they also strive to stand out from the crowd and be the exception. How is this supposed to work? They are complete opposites. You either join everyone else in faking it, in which case you will just be another body in a sea of fakers, or you stay true to your beliefs and values, be yourself, and be the exception to the rule.
Faking it does have its merits, though. The commonly held belief among young people today is that, in order to succeed or gain approval, they must alter their behaviour and effectively become someone else. In this respect, faking it is a successful defence mechanism. After all, fear of rejection is no longer an issue when you conform to the expectations of others. It is, however, a less than ideal blueprint for how to live your life.
Of all the definitions of authenticity (and there are so very many!), the one that rings truest in my humble opinion is that of Aristotle. Aristotle, the great philosopher, advised that we should strive to find the “Golden Mean”. This is the perfect balance of honesty and discretion, which are reliant on the context and circumstances in which you find yourself.
In this respect, authenticity is about resisting the urge to become someone else, while staying true to your values. It’s also about self expression, but in moderation. That is where discretion comes in. Others do not want to hear all of your opinions and justifications, and everything that pops into your head. You can be yourself AND be discreet. It all depends on context and circumstances.
I’ll end here with a quote which is particularly relevant;
“In a society that profits from your self-doubt, liking yourself is a rebellious act”
– Caroline Caldwell