Authenticity feels amazing. I’ve had moments of dropping into a pure authentic state only to be jolted out by my insecurity.
Being inauthentic feels as bad as true authenticity feels good. I recently had a dinner experience, where I spent 90% of the meal acting like a character I thought the people I was with would like. Of course none of this was conscious, and I was unaware it was happening, until I got home from the evening, feeling completely drained, dull, and frankly awful. When I woke up the next morning, my frustration remained, I had an “inauthenticity hangover.”
The cure: awareness. Awareness is always the first requirement to change a behavior. I first had to realize what I was doing, to see how I could change or improve in the future. I thought back to the dinner the night before.
I was meeting friends I think the world of. We’re not super close; but they’re the type of people everyone wishes they were super close with – those rare magnetic people you want to be impressed, so they’ll like you just as much as you like them. Luckily for me, they did like me enough to hang out with me; and usually I could keep my cool, be myself and have a great time.
That night though in the loud, crowded restaurant, I felt off balance. It wasn’t just us and suddenly I felt lost. I’d lost myself. I suddenly didn’t feel comfortable in my body, or as myself, so I started to be who I thought they’d want me to be.
Whenever I’m trying to be who someone else wants me to be, I turn into nothing. I become a mush of what I think they want, and who I naturally am culminating in a dull personality.
Of course I could never be exactly who they wanted me to be for a couple reasons: firstly I’m not a mind reader; and secondly, it’s impossible for us to morph our natural personality away from who we truly are.
Thank goodness, this is the case, because it feels so much better to simply be who we actually are for both parties. The parts of our personality we’re hiding, we have to manage, constantly fearing slipping up, and showing our true colors. However, when we are completely ourselves, we can relax. It feels peaceful, not having to manage the lies we’re telling, or the masks we’re wearing, we can simply be.
After I became aware that’s what I was doing at dinner, I felt embarrassed; but rather than beating myself up for the silly inauthentic behavior, I chose to learn from the entire experience. I realized next time, I’ll bring myself to dinner, not this old version of myself, based on who I thought they wanted to have dinner with. They asked me to dinner, meaning they wanted the real me complete with all my quirks, insecurities, and loud laughter.