Don’t Compromise Your Creativity and Imagination.

Do not quench your inspiration and your imagination; do not become the slave of your model

Vincent Van Gogh

One of the most courageous things you can do in this world, is to be yourself. Open yourself up authentically and vulnerably. Discover what you were meant to do with your life, and do it. Don’t look to anybody else for permission or inspiration. Speak your mind and be honest. Do what makes you feel alive, and happy. You only have one life, so live it however you want. Provided that you are not hurting anybody else, there is no reason why can’t do this. The alternative, of course, is to live somebody else’s life for 50 years and then spend the rest of your days looking back with regret on missed opportunities and deferred happiness.

Resist the urge to conform and fit in. Resist the pressures to change or compromise, which society and social media will inevitably subject you to. If you need to change who you are in order for others to accept you, then that is a clear sign that these people are not meant to be in your life. The universe has something else planned for you instead.

Staying true to yourself and embracing your creativity can often leave you feeling rather lonely and questioning whether you are doing the right thing. Have faith in yourself, and trust that if you keep working hard and persevere through the challenging times, great things will happen.

Offices, warehouses and countless other workplaces are full of people who traded their creativity and their dreams for a steady paycheck. Talk to a few people in your own workplace, and you will encounter people whose real passion and talent lie in writing, painting, singing, dancing, acting or anything other than what they are actually doing for a living. That’s not to say that a good job with a steady income is a bad thing. Far from it. We all have financial commitments and bills to pay, so having a regular paycheck helps you to ensure that your bills are always paid on time and that you can manage your finances in order to live comfortably. However, if you are to trade your imagination for a steady, secure job, be sure that it’s your own choice to do so and that this is not a decision which has been forced upon you.

The happiest people in life, are also the most authentic. They are the ones who have held on to their creativity and imagination, and also live life on their own terms. It’s not easy, at all, but when you live your life as you want, you will find that life becomes infinitely more enjoyable. Why is this, I hear you ask? Well, living life on your own terms is empowering. You realise just how much control you have, and how it’s your own thoughts, decisions and actions which determine your future.

Stop limiting your talents, and putting your life’s direction in the hands of others. Take back control, and live the life you want, as you want to

A Black Dog Named Depression

Depression is your body saying “Fuck You, I don’t want to be this character any more. It’s too much for me” You should think of the word DEPRESSED as DEEP REST. Your body needs deep rest from the character that you’ve been trying to play

Jim Carrey

Depression is more than simply feeling unhappy or fed up for a few days. Most people go through periods of feeling down, but when you’re depressed you feel persistently sad and helpless for weeks or months, rather than just a few days.

Some people think depression is trivial and not a genuine health condition. This couldn’t be further from the truth. It is a real illness with real symptoms, but being a mental health issue, it’s difficult to recognise. Depression isn’t a sign of weakness. It’s a serious condition of which, thankfully, awareness is increasing. It is also treatable. There are still some, however, who refuse to accept its severity and potentially devastating consequences. They play it down by telling sufferers to “snap out of it” or “pull yourself together”. This is about as helpful as treating a broken bone with a band-aid plaster.

The best way to treat this disease is through talking. Anti-depressants don’t work. They simply numb you, while the underlying causes of your illness go unchallenged. When you’re living with the black dog that is depression, talking and opening up about your illness is the scariest thing imaginable, yet it’s the only way to overcome it and regain control of your life. All sorts of questions go through your head, as you weigh up whether to tell someone else;

  • What will they think of me if I tell them? Will they see me as weak and pathetic?
  • Will they understand?
  • What if they no longer want to know me after I told them?
  • What if they tell others, and I become a laughing stock?

Experience has taught me that these fears couldn’t be further from the truth, and people will surprise you with how caring and supportive they can be once you open up to them. You just need to think carefully about who it is that you are confiding in, and be sure that you can rely on their confidence.

Depression doesn’t distinguish between social status, race or age. It really can happen to anyone. I’ve suffered with this debilitating illness on and off for a while, but had never really done much about it. Just ride it out when it strikes, then brush it under the carpet and move on. Until last year, when it nearly cost me my life. I don’t suffer from drug or alcohol addiction, in fact I am teetotal by choice. My childhood was one filled with love and happiness, and I have performed well academically and later, professionally. I am one of life’s lucky people, and last year, I was preparing to marry my fiancee and buy a house together.

It should have been the happiest time of my life, but I was in turmoil. I felt overwhelmed. Demands were being placed on my time, and I had to forego the things which I wanted to do, and which made me happy. I was expected to behave in certain ways, and pretty much become a different person according to the company I was with. My focus was on keeping other people happy and tending to their needs, all the while neglecting my own. I barely slept, exercised or ate and was under constant attack by the grey matter between my ears. As my mental health deteriorated, so did my physical health and immune system, so that a simple flu led to pneumonia, sepsis and a fortnight fighting for my life in hospital.

I survived, but the road to recovery was a long and painful one. I finally accepted that I was suffering from mental health issues and asked for help. The friends and family in whom I confided were an amazing source of support and encouragement, but it was counselling that made all the difference.

Psychologists come only second in scariness to dentists. Still, I was determined to cure myself of this terrible disease once and for all, so I faced my fears and started counselling.

This was the best gift I could have given myself. Working with a psychologist forced me to confront my fears and insecurities, but also determine who I am. Not who society, family or friends expect me to be. I worked to understand what I hold important in my life, and what I need in order to be happy. I also worked to understand who I really am and what it is that I want from life.

All of this served to help me become more self-aware and more confident. As a result, I am able to identify the triggers that used to start me on an downward spiral, and tackle them before they take hold and cause me any harm. I have re-evaluated who I spend time with and what I spend my time doing, ridding my life of negative people and their influences. It caused a lot of problems, as some people reacted very badly to me taking control of my mental health and my life. As soon as I realised that they weren’t angry at me as a person, but that they were angry because I was no longer conforming to their expectations, I cut them off and felt instantly relieved.

I now live my life as I want. I still treat all others with kindness and respect, and strive to become the very best version of myself BUT I am careful about who I spend my time with, and what I spend my time doing. Is it making me happy? Is it helping me to grow as a person, or professionally? I no longer dance to the tune of others, and I have never been happier. Of course, I adapt and compromise wherever necessary, but I will never again sacrifice what I hold dear just so that others might accept me.

I’m not playing down depression, or saying that tackling it is easy. I’m not saying, either, that it’s just caused by trying to live up to the expectation of others. There are many causes, and mine was trying to live up to the expectations of others while neglecting myself. I only hope that this will help to increase awareness of the condition, and give others the strength to seek help.

Depression is one of the biggest killers of young people, but it’s treatable. We just need to find the courage to speak to someone. Most of all, though, we need to find the courage to be ourselves and live our own lives. Marketers and social media outlets bombard us with messages constantly about how we should live our lives and we feel compelled to pay attention. After all, we don’t want to miss out and be left behind. This becomes a problem, though, when we set aside our own values, forget who we are and become someone else just so that we can be accepted by others.

If you want to achieve anything in life, you need to pay close attention to your mental health. Like a bonsai tree, it can be very delicate and in need to of time and attention. Take good care of your little grey cells and they will take very good care of you on your journey through life.


It’s better to walk alone than with a crowd going in the wrong direction

Malcolm X

What Messages Are You Sending Out?

In our personal and professional lives, we are always trying to convince other people of something. It could be that you are trying to convince an interview panel that you are the perfect fit for the role, or thirty disinterested students that today’s class will benefit them. Perhaps, as discussed in a recent post, you need to convince someone that there could be a mutual benefit if they were to help you in your current endeavour.

How do we convince people to believe in us, support us or allow us to lead them? A lot of people rely on just words. The prevailing belief is that, if you want to convince anybody of anything, you just need to know what to say.  The reality, though, is very different. Words alone do not work because we have learned to tune them out. Technology has shortened our attention spans, so if somebody talks for too long we lose interest. There is also a growing awareness of the ways in which we are being bombarded with marketing and sales messages on a daily basis. This leads to some people regarding sales and marketing professionals as manipulative and deceptive, so anything that sounds too polished or too much like sales-speak is likely to be ignored. So, how do we get people to buy into our vision if words alone are not enough?

Your actions speak so loudly that I cannot hear what you say

Ralph Waldo Emerson

This brings me back to the title. You need to think very carefully about the messages which you are sending out. People do not only listen to what you are saying, but they also take into account your behaviour, appearance, accomplishments and even relationships. Are you qualified to teach the subject matter? Have you experienced enough of something to be able to offer advice on it? Do people see the potential in you, which could be realised with their help?

There needs to be congruency between what you say and do. That is what convinces people of your authenticity, and that they can trust you. If there is an intentional discrepancy, and you are a different person at home and in the office, then you need to take a step back and take a long hard look at yourself. Are you happy leading 2 separate lives? How is that leading you to behave towards others? Is it opening doors for you, or are they being slammed in your face? If you are anything but happy as you are, then perhaps it’s time to consider a job change or a relationship in which you can’t be yourself. When your actions and words are in harmony with each other, this brings peace of mind and helps you to develop more meaningful personal and professional relationships with people who feel that you are trustworthy.

Sometimes, there is a discrepancy between our words and behaviours which are unintended. Take, for example, a teacher who is also an introvert. These are polar opposites. A teacher needs to exude confidence, because students will allow a confident teacher to guide them in acquiring knowledge. Yet, an introvert is often rather quiet and can lack confidence. So, putting an introvert in a room with 30 teenage boys can be a recipe for disaster as they will sense the lack of confidence and spend more time pushing boundaries than learning French.

This brings me back to a recent post on seeking help when you need it. families and friends are a great place to start, but you do need to be careful. They will often sugar coat the truth, and not highlight all of the ways in which your behaviour and words do not match. They do this because they are trying to protect you and not destroy your confidence, but by telling you what you want to hear they are unintentionally doing you a disservice.

This is where professional help comes in. Consider talking to a psychologist. I did and it was amazing. We unearthed so many ways in which I was subconsciously sabotaging my progress, and once they were brought into the open, I was able to work on them and overcome them. I was also unknowingly causing a huge amount of damage to my relationship with my fiancée, because personal relationships can be hit particularly hard if your words and actions do not support each other.  It may be that an underlying issue is causing a difference between the messages you want to send out and those that you are actually sending out. Seek help and put the work in to rectify this. It’s not easy, because you will need to seriously question yourself to determine who you really are, what you want from life, what drives you and how you want to perceived by others.

A psychologist is a good place to start, because they are impartial. It could be that you would be better served by a body language expert, a speech therapist or a professional coach whom they could recommend. Having spoken to a psychologist first, though, they will be able to refer you to the right person.

While it is necessary to seek help at times from others on your journey through life, you will only get it if they feel that you can be trusted and won’t waste their time. To do that, you need to make sure that your actions reflect your true beliefs and values. Ironically, you may find that you need help in making sure that your words and actions support each other. If, however, you are serious about becoming the best version of yourself that you can be, you won’t hesitate to seek the support that will help you to become the person you need to be in order to achieve your goals.

Be Yourself

Half the world is composed of those who have something to say and can’t, and the other half who have nothing to say and keep on saying it

Robert Frost

In your daily life, how much time are you spending just being yourself? Social media, magazines, tv programmes and our family and friends place us under the constant pressure to dress and behave in a certain way, for fear of being rejected. We become a different person in the workplace too, because we hope it will lead to us being accepted as part of a team or boost our chances of promotion and progression. Outside pressures or the enticement of potential rewards, essentially, lead us to becoming actors. We say or do things, in the presence of others, which we normally wouldn’t even think about.

Under this crippling pressure, countless people buckle and become someone else. An average person might go as far as juggling several personas; the work one, the social media one, one that they adopt around friends and family, and then there’s the true self. The real identity. The real person, who comes out when nobody else is around and the pretence is dropped. Underneath all the smiles, how happy are they when they juggle multiple personalities?

Putting on an act can be exhausting, but also troubling mentally. After all, if you suppress your true personality and identity in order to become someone else, you are essentially living a lie. Furthermore, you have to remember which lie you need to be living, and act to be putting on, according to your current surroundings.

Be mindful of what you say and do. Pay attention to how you present yourself to others. Are you being true to yourself, or are you just putting on an act and playing to the audience?

Conforming to outside pressures and putting on an act can, over time, lead us to forgetting who we really are. Before you contemplate becoming someone else to satisfy others, ask yourself whether it’s really worth it. If you want to change for yourself, then that’s great. BUT if you are going to do it to please someone else, think carefully. After all, if  someone else does want you in their life, in whatever capacity, why can they not accept you as you are?

I once put on an act when in a former relationship. I did it to impress the girl, and it worked. After a short while, I revealed my true self and we had a great relationship. Until I started spending more and more time in the company of her incredibly judgemental and condescending family. So, stupidly, I put on an act to win their approval and it worked. Until I decided to stop pretending and be myself. Then it quickly unravelled and quickly ruined everything. Under pressure to be accepted I lied and lived a lie around them, only to later reveal my true self. Can’t blame them, I should have been myself from the start. Painful as it was when I lost everything, it served as a very valuable lesson. Just be yourself. You might think that by putting on an act, you will be accepted better by others, but soon the mask will slip and people will see the real you. Even if they like the real you, it’s all over as you have essentially lied to them and destroyed their trust.

Being yourself is the most liberating feeling. Of course, it might ruffle some feathers but those who want any kind of relationship with you will accept you as you are.


Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken.

Oscar Wilde

The weight of expectation

“Live no longer to the expectation of those deceived and deceiving people with whom we converse”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Parents, family, friends, social groups, teachers, managers… These are just a few of the many people to whom we give the power to influence our daily lives. We turn to them for advice, guidance, help or support whenever we need it. Many of them, such as parents, managers and social groups have certain expectations for how we should act and lead our lives. This is not necessarily a bad thing when they only want the best for us, and support our goals and dreams. The problem arises when they try to dissuade us from a plan of action because it does not fit in with their expectations. It may that they want to protect us from the risk of failure. It could be that they are jealous of our potential success. Or perhaps a determination that we should not stand out from the group. Whatever the reasoning behind it, some people will inevitably try to dissuade us from following our own paths because they would rather we stay on the one which they approve of. This is not a healthy way to lead your life. If you are simply living your life in accordance with the expectations of others, is it even your life that you are living? What about your own plans, hopes, goals, dreams and aspirations? How about what makes you happy, drives you and gives you a sense of purpose?

One example of expectation gone wrong is social media and the distortion it creates. In this day and age, young people are becoming increasingly addicted to social media. It is a wonderful creation and has the power for good, but it does have its darker side. This is the side that encourages people to take drastic measures for fear of losing out. All too often, people spend huge amounts of money on credit cards in order to buy things which they may not particularly like, want or need. Why? In order to fit in. They see the pictures on Instagram, for example, and do not want to miss out. But it goes deeper than that, with people adopting almost completely new personas in order to remain part of a social group or maintain the popularity of their social media accounts. The problem is that social media is rarely a reflection of real life. Furthermore, trends and tastes change very quickly so you will be forever adapting and changing yourself in order to fit in.

The only goals and expectations which really matter are those which you set for yourself. It is worth asking yourself, when someone tries to impose their expectations on you, why they may be doing this. In whose best interest is it for you to follow their lead? Naturally, other people have something to teach us, and it is a very good idea to get a second opinion wherever possible. Talk to those closest to you. Seek advice. Share your experiences with them. But follow your own path. Be confident. Listen to the warnings and lessons of others but do not be so quick to abandon your own goals in order to live up to their expectations.

This is your life, and it’s short, so you should live it as you want. Provided that you are not hurting, offending or taking advantage of anyone else, you should absolutely live up to your own expectations and the standards which you set for yourself. The people who truly care about you will respect you, understand and adjust their expectations in order to support you.

Rather than blindly living up to the expectations imposed on us by others, have the courage to listen to what your gut is telling you. You never know, it may actually be them who are wrong, not you.

The dark side of social media

I, like most people, love social media. Instagram, LinkedIn, What’s app, Facebook and so many more ways now exist in which we can connect with one another.There are countless social media platforms and they all offer something different.  Some might offer business networking opportunities or perhaps a helping hand with dating, while others may provide the opportunity to share visual snapshots of our daily lives with the world. The main thing which they all do is bring us together. They connect people with like minds and similar interests all over the world, and allow them to share experiences. They can provide inspiration or information, but they also provide a platform for people with very different views to have discussions, and better understand each other.

As with everything else, though, social media has its downside too. It can encourage vanity and selfishness, while breeding jealousy, as people fill their profile pages with pictures of luxury goods and holidays in exotic locations. Some of these are genuine depictions of peoples’ lifestyles, but an incredible amount of them are mere illusions, with the photos being staged using items which are borrowed or fake. And the holidays? Many of the same pictures can easily be found with a quick Google search. All with the aim of faking it till you make it, showing the world how perfect your life is. This obsession with showing the world how wonderful your life is leads to missed opportunities to connect with people who could’ve helped you to achieve your goals and actually reach a level where that lifestyle really could be yours. After all, they may feel that you have it all, and they have nothing to offer which can help you. Furthermore, some people can become envious of lifestyles and relationships which don’t really exist.

As discussed in a previous post titled “Be Kind Online”, bullying is another very real, and very serious problem. Facilitated by the anonymity of online interactions, people who may be otherwise kind and respectful become spiteful and abusive to others in order to vent their own personal frustrations. How is this possible? Nice people become online trolls when they adopt a different online persona. Rather than just be true to themselves, they use the anonymity of online platforms to create a new identity.

All of this is wholly unnecessary. As discussed in earlier posts, I strongly believe in being authentic, and being true to yourself. Just document the life you lead, not the one you wish you had. Show people the real you, and use social media as a kind of journal to document your journey towards fulfilling your potential. In this way, you can inspire others to begin or continue their journey, or may find others willing to connect with you to offer help and share their experiences. Even if you have become successful and genuinely lead a glamorous lifestyle, I would ask that you share some lessons which you learned along the way. These little nuggets of information and experience could help, inspire or motivate so many others. If done right, there is so much good that can come from sharing the pursuit of your goals.

Social media is amazing and we should make better use of it. Instead of getting drawn into competitions with others over who has the most desirable lifestyle, embrace the opportunities it offers to bring people together, share experiences and help each other. 

 Authenticity and Integrity

“In order to be irreplaceable one must always be different”

Coco Chanel

We all want to stand out and to be seen as unique or original. The irony is, that in order to achieve this, too many people simply adopt a new persona based on how they’d like to be seen by others. Or they copy those celebrities whose lifestyles they wish they had. However, in going down this path we end up, unintentionally at first, becoming part of a group and blending in, achieving the complete opposite of what we intended. Once this persona has been adopted, we find comfort in the company of like-minded people and further mould our identity to conform with this new group. All the while, we suppress and hide who we really are, our true selves, for fear of getting expelled from our group. So we persist with the act and lead, what amounts to, a double life. In private, we lead our lives on our terms. Until we are next with our social groups and the herd mentality kicks in. We find ourselves spending money we don’t have on things we don’t need in order to maintain the respect of our peers, when we would much rather have invested that money in ourselves to take us closer to our goals. We say and do things that may go against what we truly believe, for fear of expulsion from the group. We stop doing what makes us happy and our focus shifts to gaining the acceptance of others. All in the hope of being regarded as unique or original. This is tiring, to say the least.

This begs the question…Can you be unique or different without compromising who you really are?!

Of course you can. By staying true to yourself, you are already standing out from the crowd. Have strength, courage and confidence enough to resist conforming to the expectations of others or following their lead. Stay true to your values and your beliefs. Do what makes you happy and takes you closer to your goals, instead of trying to please others. Have the self-awareness to know who you really are and the self-respect to live accordingly. These are just a few of the ways in which you can be different, but in a good way. 

 People are very good at spotting a fake, so drop the act. Instead, make it your goal that there be congruence between your true self and your outward words and actions. In other words, just be yourself. We all have our strengths and weaknesses, gifts and flaws, so embrace them. They are what make you who you are. Reflect on these long enough and you will become more self-aware. Once you have a good idea who you are, what drives you and what you are passionate about, adjust your life accordingly.

If you want to be different, unique or stand out from the crowd…just be true to yourself and live your own life, not anybody else’s. People will recognise and respect you all the more for it. Give it a go and see how happy you become as a result, you won’t regret it.

“Today you are you,

that is truer than true.

There is no-one alive

that is youer than you”

Dr Seuss

If you want to be happy, be true to yourself

Recently, we have looked at authenticity  and being yourself from several different angles. Why do I feel that it is so important to address this issue? In short, I am sharing my reflections on authenticity because I strongly believe that knowing who you are and behaving accordingly has the power to lay the foundations for happiness in your life.

Too many people live in fear of the judgement of others, be it the disapproval of a parent or sibling, or a negative comment on social media. As a result, people live their lives seeking acceptance and fearing rejection. In effect, people are allowing others to dictate their lives, and their happiness. This breeds frustration, misery and inner conflict. 

The time has come now to stop complaining and making excuses for your unhappiness and why your life may not be  progressing as you’d like. The truth is that you alone have the power to address this. Once you have progressed far along enough on your journey of self discovery to have a good understanding of who you are, act accordingly. There may be some resistance from friends and family at first, but that will fade and they will accept the new, happy you. If social groups reject and ostracise you this is a sign that it wasn’t meant to be, but another group will welcome you with open arms and accept you as you are. After all, as one door closes another will open.

We only have one life. Wouldn’t it be a terrible shame to spend it living up to the expectations of others while denying our true selves?! This has the potential to breed regret later in life, which is a powerful and painful emotion. The good news is that this scenario is avoidable if you can find the courage to be yourself. It’s not easy, discovering and accepting who you truly are, but the rewards make the  effort and hard work worthwhile.

I’d like to end this post with some food for thought from the philosopher Carl Jung;

Whoever looks into the mirror of the water will see first of all his own face. Whoever goes to himself risks a confrontation with himself. The mirror does not flatter, it faithfully shows whatever looks into it; namely, the face we never show to the world because we cover it with the persona, the mask of the actor. But the mirror lies behind the mask and shows the true face.

“Archetypes of the Collective Unconscious” (1935). In CW 9, Part I: The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious. P.43

A call for Congruence

In exploring the importance of authenticity and being yourself in the modern digital age, it is wise to consider congruence. Congruence, in this instance, refers to the harmony or balance between our self-image and the version of ourselves which we present to the outside world.

This post is inspired  by a Japanese proverb which I have encountered numerous times on social media outlets. The proverb in question states that we have 3 faces. The first face is the one which we present to the outside world. The second face is the one which we reveal to family and close friends. The third face, which we never reveal to anyone else, is the truest reflection of who we are.

I interpret this as the first face being a mask which we wear when engaging with others outside of our immediate circle. In essence, this face represents the regulation of our behaviour to ensure that it is in line with what is socially expected while also being accepted culturally.

The second face is the mask we wear when interacting with family and close friends. This represents the way in which we modify our behaviour when with our nearest and dearest. We often do whatever we can to let them know that we love, care for and respect them. We often prioritise the happiness of those closest to us over our acting according to our true selves.

The third face is our true reflection. This is our authentic, true self which we often keep hidden from others for fear of ridicule or rejection.

Is it really necessary, or even healthy, to live like this?! There must surely be a better way.

In the last post, we touched on Aristotle’s “Golden Mean”. According to this rule, authenticity is a perfect balance between honesty and discretion, which also takes into account the context and circumstance.

Why can’t we apply the Golden Mean here too? If there are to be 3 versions of the self, why can we not work to ensure that there is congruence, or harmony between all 3? 

In doing this, we relieve ourselves of any inner conflict. Thar is not to say that it is easy. Far from it. In order to achieve harmony between our 3 faces, or selves,  we must first have a good understanding of who we are and what drives us. Self-Awareness, however, is a big part of the journey we are on towards success and something we should be working towards anyway.

On the other hand, maintaining several different personas is tiring. Unless you are an entertainer, it can also be conflicting and tiring leading to wasted energy which could be better directed elsewhere

So, is congruence a possibility? Are we able to find harmony and consistency in who we really are and how we present ourselves to the outside wold? 

Just be yourself

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

Be kind online

We live in a digital, connected, age and more of our lives are being spent online. For a growing number of people, this is their main source of communication, information or entertainment.

Please don’t get me wrong. This is a wonderful thing, and opens the door to an incredible amount of opportunities and experiences. There is, however, a dark side of which we need to be aware. Thankfully, with a little effort, we can do something about it. 

The problem stems from how we regard the time we spend online. For some it provides a space in which they can take a break from their daily lives and adopt a new persona, in effect becoming someone else. In person someone might be polite and respectful, only to adopt an online alter ego through which they vent their pent-up frustration anonymously. It”s the lack of empathy in these online interactions which is worrying.

It”s easy to get carried away in the heat of the moment but we must always strive to treat others with respect. Regardless of whether we are communicating and interacting with them online or in person. Growing up, we are taught to treat others as we ourselves would like to be treated. It is now more important than ever that we remind ourselves of this.

We all have the power to brighten up the world around us and to bring happiness, but it is through our interactions with others that we can achieve this.

We all have frustrations and annoyancestors which build within us, but there are better outlets for this, such as exercising or spending time outdoors in nature. 

Our ultimate aim should be to leave a positive impression on everyone with whom we interact. It is simply not possible to do this every single time, but that does not mean that we should not at least try. We should aim to;

  • Be mindful that there is a real person on the other end of every interaction or conversation. You are communicating with a human being who has feelings which can be hurt by your angry comments.
  • In your online interactions, only say that which you would be prepared to say in person, if the two of you were to meet.
  • Be yourself (unless, of course, you are an entertainer, actor, comedian, musician…). Drop the alter-ego and just be you. This opens the door for genuine interactions which could lead to wonderful new places.
  • Be kind. You have no idea what demons others are fighting, and how much of a positive impact they might experience after some positivity or encouragement from you.

One thing, above all, worth bearing in mind is the permanence of our online interactions. Increasingly,  a prospective client, employer, business partner or date will turn to Google and carry out a quick search of our name in order to get a feel for who we are before meeting in person. So don’t sabotage your future success by saying something online, just to vent your frustratons,  which you would never say in person.