When we first launched the ¿Quién Tú Eres? T-shirt over a year ago, we wanted it to be a reminder to our community of what it means to be truly authentic. Many of us think of authenticity only in terms of a decision to be who we truly are. But that is only half the equation. The other half of authenticity is letting go.
What exactly are we to let go of? Check out this picture of the back of the ¿Quién Tú Eres? T-Shirt. You will see a list of characteristics that we human beings tend to exhibit. Some of them are in normal text while others are in strike-through text. Those in the latter group are things to work on getting rid of.
About half-way down you should see ' others expectations' in strike-through text. There is your answer. The other half of genuine authenticity is letting go of what others expect of you. We get it. It is easier said than done.
Choosing to Be Authentic
One of the biggest challenges in the modern authenticity movement is differing definitions. Do an online search for yourself and you'll discover that people define authenticity in different ways. To us, the biggest consideration is whether authenticity is an innate trait.
To approach it another way, is authenticity a characteristic you are born with? And if so, can people who aren't born with it learn it? These are questions that the modern culture is trying to answer. But perhaps they are missing the point.
Authenticity isn't a character trait as much as it is a choice. Actually, it is a selection of choices we make every single day. This ties back into letting go of others’ expectations. What we do with the expectations others place on us is a matter of choice. We choose to respond all the time, in one way or another.
Authenticity Takes Practice
Once you understand that authenticity is a series of choices, it is easier to cut yourself some slack. Most of us do not live truly authentic lives 24/7. Some days we are right on while other days we fall flat on our faces. We even fluctuate between authentic and inauthentic several times in a given day. That is normal.
The point here is not to beat yourself up on days when your authenticity is lacking. Give yourself credit for trying. And then remember that, just like with any other difficult choice, being authentic more often than not takes practice.
As a kid, you probably made the conscious choice to learn to ride a bike. But did you become an expert rider the first time you sat in the seat? No. If you are like most of us, you fell at least a few times. But you got back up, sat in the seat, and tried again. Living an authentic life works the same way. Mastering it just takes a little bit longer than mastering a bicycle.
Letting Go Takes Practice
It stands to reason that if genuine authenticity takes practice, so does letting go. It is normal to struggle with letting go of others' expectations when you first make the conscious choice to do so. Letting go can make you feel guilty. It can make you feel ashamed. But that's okay, as those feelings will pass in time. Recommit to letting go and try again.
One half of genuine authenticity is being true to yourself. The other half is letting go of others' expectations. Guess what? The two complement one another if you make the choice to do both. That is the path to genuine authenticity.