Authentic. It’s a word we use to describe when something is real or genuine and not a copy or something false. You can say that a Rolex watch or a painting by Picasso is authentic. But what about a person…?

By this definition, humans too, are naturally authentic. Your mere existence makes you so. Just look at a newborn baby – they are completely themselves. They want to cry, they cry, they want to sleep, they sleep, they want to relieve themselves, they just go for it. There´s no guilt, no shame, no over analysis.

But we can´t keep doing that forever! You wouldn´t get very far in the world. As we are socialized, we learn to modify our behavior, to adapt to different circumstances, in order to survive, and to get the best outcomes.


But often, through the process of interacting with the world around us, we can take this too far, and start to behave in a way that is not necessarily true to ourselves and to our own nature.

And so, people can also lose that authenticity, and become fake, or false, doing things that are in conflict with, or even the opposite to their core personality and beliefs.

People put on a fake persona for many different reasons. Many people struggle with showing their authentic selves due to fear, anxiety, and other uncomfortable emotions. They feel that if people knew who they really were, they wouldn’t be as well-liked, lose their respect or even lose their love.

However, being authentic is actually one of the crucial aspects needed for healthy relationships that are impactful and meaningful. How can anyone love you for who you are, if you are not being yourself to begin with? And second, wearing a mask, or putting on a persona day in and day out can be tiring. It´s a heavy costume to wear, and we can end up exhausted and burned out. It is so much lighter and easier to let go of that person and just Be You.

Which leads to the question; how can you start living your authentic self? Below we’ll answer that question and take a closer look at the common mistakes and misperceptions people have when it comes to being authentic.

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What Does it Mean to be Your Authentic Self?

Being authentic isn’t difficult but does take practice (as with everything in life). To be authentic, you must have a keen awareness of who you indeed are, including what you care about, believe in, and stand for.

An authentic person, for example, says and does things that are in absolute alignment with their core beliefs and identity. They don’t change their views, actions, or opinions to please other people, and they answer questions with honesty and consistency. For example, authentic people:

  • Make decisions that align with their core beliefs and values.
  • Pursue their passions no matter what others might say.
  • Set boundaries and, in all circumstances, enforce those boundaries by walking away from toxic or harmful relationships.
  • Let themselves be vulnerable and open-hearted under the right situations and with the people they love and care about.
  • Listen to their conscience, the “inner voice” that guides us and, amazingly, is always right.

The examples above should give you a good idea of what it means to be authentic and live an authentic life. To make it even more profound, though, being authentic will show you where you’re going and give your life clarity.

As an authentic person, you know what your core values are, and you make every decision in your life based on those values. In turn, this allows you to build the life you dream about, give you more joy and happiness, and inspires those around you to be more authentic.

Common Mistake People Make About Authenticity

As with all things in life, becoming your authentic self takes time, effort, and practice. The fact is, we all change and grow as we get older, and our core beliefs and values change also.

As with everything in life, there will be obstacles and bumps along the way. To be authentic means to evaluate those obstacles, get over those bumps, and be the person you are inside on the outside. Some of the mistakes people make on the road to becoming theory authentic selves include:

Equating Being Authentic With Being Rude, Aggressive, or Mean

Being authentic means sticking to your core beliefs and values under all circumstances. For some, this is often mistaken, if you will, for being an A-hole. Many people think authenticity is speaking your mind and saying your opinion no matter what the situation.

In fact, the opposite is true. An authentic person doesn’t feel the need to force their opinions or beliefs on others. Yes, they will undoubtedly try, under some circumstances, to persuade people to see things “their way.”

However, authentic people know who they are and don’t waste time trying to change people who don’t want to, or aren’t ready, to be changed. Also, they use tact, compassion, and respect when talking to those whose opinions differ from their own.

Not Being Sure of Who You Are

Less a mistake than a situation, not knowing exactly who you are is one of the obstacles you need to overcome on the journey to being your authentic self. That’s why authenticity is so difficult for teens and younger adults as they simply don’t know who they are, at least not entirely.

Making the time to understand yourself, realize your core values and set your life on course to be authentic is necessary for all people. It takes listening to others, reading books, meditating, and being open to at least hear all opinions before making a judgment.

Trying To Remove the Risk of Failure, Embarrassment, or Pain

Many people make this mistake on the road to become their authentic selves. They try to be someone whom they are not, to avoid pain, embarrassment, and failure. However, all of these emotions and feelings are natural and need to be confronted in a healthy way.

For example, you need to realize that failure, though not optimal, is a natural part of life. Embarrassment? The only valid reason to be embarrassed is if you try to be someone you’re not, and it blows up in your face. If you are behaving in an authentic way, and you accept yourself as you are, then there is never anything to be embarrassed about.

How To Start Being Your Authentic Self

Being authentic, as we mentioned earlier, takes time, effort, and introspection. Below are a few methods you can use to let your authentic self shine through:

  • Learn what your strengths are, whether with language, emotions, physical skills, etc.
  • Look at failure as a natural part of life rather than a roadblock or weakness. Everyone fails. The real winners are those who don’t let failure stop them from achieving their dreams.
  • Spend time every day doing things that help you realize who you are and what you stand for. Read books, listen to podcasts, learn from a mentor, practice being authentic, etc.
  • Actively practice spotting and dropping judgement – of yourself and others.
  • Don’t try to do it all at once. Start with smaller goals like becoming healthier, setting boundaries, and speaking from the heart.

Final Thoughts

Becoming your authentic self is a worthy goal; it’s true. It’s also a goal that will take some time to achieve, so don’t rush it. Instead, take little steps, be unafraid to fail, and never, ever let anyone try to tell you who you are.

Remember, becoming your authentic self isn’t something that one day happens and is set for the rest of your life. As you grow and mature, your authentic self will change and evolve also. If you allow that person to shine, your life and the lives of those around you will be much brighter.