Photo by Andrea Tummons on Unsplash
“Authenticity is about being true to who you are, even when everyone around you wants you to be someone else.”-Michael Jordan.
Here is a story of how I took off the mask I had been wearing and started to live a life of authenticity.
It all started for me when I began my career in sales. My upbringing always had a significant influence on my sense of dressing. I loved wearing a saree to work and would visit my customers in a saree. One day I had to meet an international client, and the company's CEO was an intelligent lady born and brought up in the west.
Instead of my usual saree, I wore a western outfit. I was not comfortable because I rarely dressed in western costumes those days. Today things have changed, and I love to be in jeans and T-shirts, even though I still prefer a saree for formal occasions.
When I met the CEO in her office, she looked me up after our technical discussions and negotiations and asked if I always wore western outfits for client meetings. I told her saree is my favorite attire, and I rarely wear western clothes.
From her expression, I could make out that even though she was impressed with my product knowledge and technical discussions, she was not impressed with my dress sense. She knew I could not carry it off and was uncomfortable.
Later in the week, during a follow-up call with the CEO's executive assistant, I was very clearly told that madam CEO would be happy if I came dressed in a saree.
I felt like the air had been knocked out of me.
I tried to manage impressions, but my client did not like it. Fear of rejection made me avoid authenticity; therefore, instead of showing up as my true self, I showed up as someone I thought the CEO would like to meet.
My boss, a tenured management expert, explained the importance of being authentic. He said people would like you more if they see the real you. Unless you are comfortable wearing a different dress and can carry it off, you should not do it to manage impressions and expectations.
Embracing authenticity does not come easily. It took me a while to be authentic, but I did. Once I had a better sense of how to be authentic, I made it a habit. It made a huge difference.
It is not easy to be authentic. Social groups surrounding us and the environments around us, like school, college, friend circles, office etc., may have some expectations placed on us. Even if we want to be authentic, the expectations and needs of the social groups can be different and may not be aligned with our authentic selves.
In the technology age and the screen obsessed world, it is challenging to be our true selves. But the downside is that by hiding your true self you can end up feeling lonely and disconnected from others.
Developing personal power.
We present a half-honest version of ourselves by overindulging in meeting social groups' needs. In reality, people want us to be more authentic. Once they see the real you, they are more receptive to your ideas and views and like your contributions. Your power gets built as you practice authenticity.I experienced this after I made it a habit to be authentic.
Psychologists have suggested that authenticity is a crucial part of psychological health.
"I think when you're authentic you end up following your heart, and you put yourself in places and situations and in conversations that you love and that you enjoy." Neil Pasricha.
Researchers found that people who followed authentic living were found to be happier in their life and have higher self-esteem.
Authenticity and Relationships
"In order for connection to happen, we have to allow ourselves to be seen, really seen." – Brené Brown.
According to researcher and psychologist Brene Brown, authenticity in our interactions with others is crucial. It helps develop meaningful relationships.
What does being authentic mean to you? I would love to hear your views on authenticity.