To thine own self be true. Social media is full of comparisons and hashtags that lack sincerity. How do you be your true authentic self online and everywhere else?
Authenticity and vulnerability have been touted in the media as aspects of the human emotional condition that can no longer be ignored. From the groundbreaking work by Brene Brown to articles highlighting the success of songwriters like Bruce Springsteen, the concept of truly “being oneself” has been explored more deeply than ever.
What does it mean to be truly authentic? And why is authenticity so important to cultivate and practice now? I think examinations of the current cultural narrative and rampant societal pressures are in order.
There’s so much pressure in our society to be perfect these days. Taking social media into account, we are absolutely bombarded with a constant barrage of images and videos showing people on vacation, working out, in their new cars or #livingmybestlife as the popular hashtag goes. But the danger in this perfectionist slant is that it presents a very myopic view of life and purports that everything is amazing – all the time.
So, what’s the problem with showing your highlight reel of life on social media? Well, nothing, intrinsically. But it’s tricky when you start believing that someone else’s life is perfect all the time and use it as a basis of comparison for your own life. Instead of feeling grateful, content, and satisfied with your life, you start having those gnawing feelings of being not enough, not having enough, or not doing enough.
In and of itself, social media is not to blame. It’s simply a platform to share details about your life. But the responsibility – and the call for more authenticity – is to share not only our A+ highlight reel of life – but more of the reality of what we face on a daily basis, including the struggles, fears, setbacks, and not-so-perfect elements of who we are.
When we can do that – to show more sides of ourselves no matter how scary that process may be – it can endear other people to our humanness, our imperfectness, our fragility – and in turn liberate us to embrace and accept ourselves fully.
Keeping the parts of ourselves hidden that we haven’t accepted or loved yet is robbing us of the unconditional love we so deeply deserve. In addition, trying to be perfect all the time and ONLY show the best parts of ourselves creates an inordinate amount of pressure to live up to the egoic illusion of our online identity. And then we have to perpetuate that identity, which leaves little room for authentic self-expression and raw vulnerability.
Speaking of authentic self-expression and raw vulnerability, I’ve noticed lately that a lot of online marketers have begun using those two ways of expression as a sales tactic to build trust and rapport with their audiences. That’s not what I’m talking about in this article, nor do I advocate the psychological manipulation of others.
What I’m talking about is just being real. Being yourself. Letting your guard down, dropping your perfectionist tendencies and showing the world all sides of yourself. Because when you do that without expectation, without agenda, without trying to elicit an effect – you’ll find that it resonates deeply with other people’s souls. The reality is that we are all facing the same challenges, we all have the same deep desires, and we are truly in this together.
As you practice radically loving and accepting yourself and begin to show all the dimensions of who you are – you give others the permission and the energy to do it for themselves. And that is one of the primary foundations for the healing of our society and the healing of this planet.