Here's the thing. Living authentically doesn't mean being chipper and happy all the time-- living authentically means owning your reality, facing our fears, and chasing wholeness over happiness. For me, it was only lately that I realized how out of touch with myself I had gotten this past year, because I have been feeling more like myself than I have in a long time. After all, it's only when you come up for air, do you realize you had been holding your breath.
Last year was a whirlwind of devastation, life changes, and crazy. One year ago, I was taking my Dad to doctor's appointments, adjusting to a long-distance relationship, and throwing a bridal shower for my sister. Since then, I've lost my father to cancer, my family got upended by it all, my 2+ year relationship dissolved, my sister got married and just had her baby (!), one of my best friend has gotten engaged, I've started a new business, I'm in the process of moving, and so many new, amazing people have come into my life.
Sometimes it's really difficult to discern if you're actually living authentically or not. Even the most in-touch person can lose touch with their authentic selves sometimes. Rather than stressing out about knocking it out of the park every single day, it's more important that we check in with ourselves every so often. Just like any instrument that is regularly being utilized, it is impossible to stay on perfect pitch 100% of the time. Occasionally we need to check in for tuning session to keep us performing at our best.
Living authentically requires us to be brave enough to be vulnerable. To let ourselves be fully seen by the world for who we truly are, and exposing true thoughts and feelings. It's a practice that is cultivated with effort, and consistency, just like anything else.
For me, here are the 6 things I've learned that happen when we don't live authentically:
1. You justify everything
"I know, I know, I'm only getting a salad for dinner-- but I promise I had a huge lunch, so I'm really okay."
"I decided not to go to the gym today because I wanted to catch up with my friend over drinks, but it's fine because I worked extra hard during my last gym session."
If you find yourself saying things like this, you're not being real with yourself. We make choices every day-- some choices are wiser than others, but it's not about knocking it out of the park every time. That's just unrealistic. But we need to just OWN our damn decisions and get over the fear of admitting what we truly want. When we start barreling down the highway of excuses and justifications, ask yourself why you're dancing around your own truth? Reframe it to take ownership and power in your choices:
"I'm trying to be mindful of my healthy eating habits right now, so I'm choosing to eat this for dinner tonight."
"I want to spend time with my friend and that means more to me right now than that spin class."
2. You gloss over bad emotions
Our emotions are there for a reason. When we feel negative emotions like guilt or regret, it typically means that we're acting out of line with how we truly feel and who we are. When emotions like anger flare up, it typically means something needs to change. When we gloss over these uncomfortable emotions or hide from them, we are essentially ignoring our authentic selves. Because what you're feeling? It's a part of you, and your reality. So don't brush past yourself-- get to know that part of you.
3. You neglect yourself + put yourself last
I have these things I call my everyday non-negotiables. They are the things that keep me aligned, and me functioning as the best me, possible. The minute I start to give those up for others around me and for multiple "one-off" occurrences, I know I'm beginning to neglect myself. My missing my workout because a someone needed me? That's fine. My continuing to let that be the first thing to go out the window anytime they need me? Not okay. Self-care is critical to us being our fullest selves.
4. You start judging others
I've always said, whatever negative things or judgements you cast upon others, is usually the ultimate revealer of your own insecurities. That girl who is always talking about how skinny girls should eat a burger? Likely not super confident in her body image. That guy who constantly judges flamboyant or emotionally expressive men? Likely not secure in his masculinity.
We've all been there. When you start to get a little snarky about other people, whether it be about their over-commitment to work, their fancy possessions, or obsession with their wedding, check yourself-- might you be feeling not so great about your career, jealous of their wealth, or unassured about your relationship status? You are totally allowed to feel those things, but rather than channel them into judgement to cast stones, acknowledge your insecurities. It's the only way how to start resolving them.
5. You give your power away
Are you putting your stock into other peoples hands? Seeking validation and answers from others can stem from fear of the unknown, but it also means you are giving your power away. It's giving into the fear and letting it control you. Why does having others tell us what the right decision is, feel so good? Because it relieves you of personal responsibility, and lets you avoid the risk you take with that leap of faith in trusting yourself. Reclaim your power by showing up, learning how to look inward to get answers for what you need and want. You might find that urge to call for help, start to quell.
6. You put things off for x, y, and z
We put figuring out our finances, because "we're young and still have time for that." We put off working on our personal growth, because "well, we've made it this far anyway." We procrastinate figuring out the true intentions of our relationships and let them just exist because "we're not there yet." We procrastinate dealing with our inner demons and insecurities, because it's too confusing and hard.
If you're avoiding facing your finances because it feels overwhelmingly "adult," and messy; if you're avoiding facing things that are currently stunting your personal growth because it just is easier to look the other way; if you're avoiding commitment because you don't know yourself yet; it all comes down to fear of figuring that out.
Procrastination IS fear. Because procrastination is avoidance. How can you live an authentic life, if you are avoiding yourself? You can't, because authenticity and avoidance cannot co-exist because you cannot be yourself while running away from another part of yourself. Some days, it'll come easier than others, and other days procrastinating until you're 80 sounds like a nicer option ¯\_(ツ)_/¯