“Empower Me is an exclusive women’s network aimed to inspire, motivate and empower women to become the best authentic version of themselves”.
What does it actually mean to be “authentic” anyway?
It seems the word authentic has somehow become a fashion fad and ubiquitous in business, personal blogs and even style magazines. Everyone wants to be “authentic” but instead of searching within, people are trying to match what authentic means to others, defeating the whole point.
The definition of authenticity – “not false or copied; genuine; real.” and, “representing one’s true nature or beliefs; true to oneself or to the person identified.”
Being authentic is about searching within to discover your unique being and living according to and aligned to that. It is about being honest with yourself first, about who you truly are, and most importantly, who you are not. What are your values and beliefs? Then, ask yourself if you are living each day aligned with your unique essence?
Cheesy, phony, fake, insincere, pretentious, disingenuous are just a few words we use to describe inauthentic people. None of these descriptions are a compliment, yet so many people can be labelled as such.
In a world that rewards flawless masks, how do we separate our identity from what we pretend?
Social media has filtrated its way into almost everyone’s lives. It has its place and for the most part, it is fun and much like looking through individuals & businesses’ personalised online magazines. With that, it has however also encouraged fake, perfect worlds that are, in essence, a ‘filter’ of people’s realities. If you have a social media account, you will possibly relate to some of this. If not, then you will at least relate to the behaviours of our modern day society.
This fake, perfect and ‘filtered’ world has led us to act & behave in ways that compromise who we are. Aligning with the fake, perfect image that we want people to assume we are, rather than who we actually are. We want to behave and think in a manner that we think people want us to. Before we know it, we have lost our true selves somewhere along the line and instead find ourselves behind masks that we feel somewhat forced to wear. This all leads to a society of people that look happy, but deep down are facing anxiety and depression.
“Do they love you, or the mask you put on every day?”
The truth is that we all have imperfections and flaws and we don’t want people to know what they are. Why? Because we fear judgement, rejection and criticism…We want to be perfect. We want to be flawless. We want the perfect body with the perfect shape and no cellulite. We want the perfect make-up with fresh curls when we open our eyes and have a photographer take iconic photos of us with breakfast in a five star hotel bed overlooking the ocean… but ladies, this is not real. It is the same as any brand advertising. I am not the first person to tell you that models and celebrities in advertising campaigns have been airbrushed to look flawless and ridiculously perfect. In real life though, they are just like every other woman – with skin imperfections, cellulite and monthly mood swings.
“There is nothing more beautiful than your authentic truth”
As much as this is all just a social, branding “game” and some ladies honestly have the most incredible social media accounts. There is nothing wrong with that, but the question is, what lies behind her photograph? Who is she? What are her values, morals and beliefs? Does she act with integrity and kindness, and does she live in the moment to build long-lasting relationships that matter? Is she honest in business and in her social circles? Is she true to herself and to what makes her happy?
These are the qualities that make you authentic.
“When you are authentic, you create an energy… people want to be around you because you are unique” – Andie MacDowell
Ultimately, people are attracted to authenticity. It makes us feel comfortable, safe, and respected. We want to be around and associated with authentic people because we can be ourselves around those who are vulnerable enough to share themselves with us, flaws and all.
Steps to becoming more authentic:
1) Be More Self-Aware
Although you are an original, being ‘authentic’ is not something you have, but it is a goal. It is something you pursue on a daily basis. As with many paths of self-improvement, you must start with observing yourself.
With constant social pressures to live inauthentic lives, it will require clarity and courage. Write down your own personal definition of authenticity, reflect on who you are and who you want to become and, most importantly, what you don’t want to be. Clarity drives action!
“By being yourself you put something wonderful in the world that was not there before” – Edwin Elliot
2) Create Meaningful & Genuine Connections
We are all human beings and many of us have so much in common. Take the time to truly get to know and understand the people around you. By developing genuine connections to the people you are with, you are more likely to feel genuine and authentic yourself.
They say that the way others act in front of you says a lot about your authenticity. When you are genuine, you encourage others to let their guard down and do the same. If you hide your feelings or pretend to be someone you are not, you cannot expect others to be honest with you.
People are mirrors that reflect your personality blind spots. Take note of what others tell you or how they behave in your presence, it will be a helpful hint of your own authenticity.
If you find that the people you spend most of your time with are not authentic and aligned with your values, morals, life goals or accepted behaviours, find a new group of friends who are. Friends, who will encourage, uplift, support and celebrate your wins with you.
3) Embrace Vulnerability
Don’t be so hard on yourself to be perfect. What’s wrong with being perfect? It’s impossible. So just be perfectly you! If you try to be perfect or act perfectly, you are already being disingenuous. Embrace your imperfection and allow yourself to be a bit vulnerable. You’ll be amazed where vulnerability can take you.
“What makes you vulnerable makes you beautiful. There’s a word for it…Authentic”
– Tim Brown
4) Be Present
With so many life distractions, it is really difficult to be present. Checking our phone or ‘zoning out’ while you are in conversation with someone is not only rude, but you are detaching yourself from them. People can intuitively sense another person’s focus and presence. Try to be more present in your conversations and relationships. Be more of a listener and give people your full attention. Being present is perhaps the single most effective way to ensure authenticity, in any situation.
Real is Rare.
I would like to encourage you to take time to reflect inwards, to be honest with yourself and your personality development areas, and to accept the challenge of being an authentic woman.
Start today to become the best authentic version of you.
– Janine Brink