How to Find Your Authenticity with a Self-Interview
If I could talk to the teenage version of myself about authenticity, I know what I would say. I would tell her the very things she is afraid make her "weird" are actually the things that make her awesome. I would tell her to stop wasting energy being afraid of judgment, and to put that energy towards enjoying the things that make her happy.
Our fear of being different makes sense–we have spent our lives experiencing or witnessing bullying, rejection, and other degradations that come with being "different." As a result, many of us have spent hours learning to ft in, creating a version of ourselves that matches the status quo. But in doing so, we often have sacrificed our authenticity.
Accepting a Relationship with Your Authentic Self
Being afraid to be authentic, while normal, is an uncomfortable way to live. We find ourselves constantly changing to fit the preferences of the people around us, hoping to avoid their judgment. But by doing this, we send ourselves a subconscious message: the opinion others have of us is more important than the opinion we have of ourselves.
But we are stuck with us for our entire lives. We live with ourselves, work with ourselves, grow with ourselves, make choices with ourselves, etc. In a sense, we are in an arranged relationship with ourselves until the day we die. Doesn't this mean we want to be the version of ourselves that we most delight in being? In the words of a wise old man (whom I call "Dad"), "Okay, you're you, now whatcha gonna do?"
One of the biggest (and perhaps hardest) steps towards building self-esteem is finding the courage to be authentic. Telling ourselves to be authentic is like walking into a gold mine–it's there, it's worth a lot, but it's going to take work to find it.
One way to discover authenticity is by examining our understanding of inauthenticity. I've found that a wonderful way to do this is by using self-interviewing. To use this technique, prepare three questions and record yourself asking, and subsequently answering, each one. Here are a few examples:
- Do you think you are authentic?
- When you think about authenticity, what is your gut reaction (Examples: fear, trepidation, condescension, excitement, etc.)
- Can you remember a time you felt authentic?
- What do you think would change in your life if you adjusted your authenticity?
- Has anything held you back? Does it still?
Once you've finished the interview, wait a few days to clear your mind, then sit down and listen. Often times, I take notes. In my experience, the recording allows me to listen with a rational mind. I frequently come away feeling more deeply impacted by this step than I did during the interview.
Take Your Time
Authenticity is not easy. We must simultaneously soften our barriers while hardening against any pain this vulnerability brings. This is why the phrase "just be yourself" is, in my opinion, inaccurate. How is "being myself" a "just?" Authenticity is a balancing act, a workout, a raging party, and a quiet reflecting pond, all at the same time.
So, take your time. Start with exploring what your version of authenticity looks like and where it feels best–you don't need to be 100% authentic all the time. Make small changes that feel good and ripple positively through your life. Authenticity is not built in a day, or in a week–it is a lifelong practice. The sooner you start, the sooner you get to be yourself.
Mahrer, B. (2019, March 14). How to Find Your Authenticity with a Self-Interview, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2020, January 24 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/buildingselfesteem/2019/3/how-to-find-your-authenticity-with-a-self-interview