Identities versus Authenticity
Many of us struggle to show who we are, without judging ourselves, or focusing on the judgments that others will have about us. Thus, we can build up identities of how we want people to see us. This can range from a few aspects of who we are, in a few specific arenas, to a complete overhaul of our truest selves. For some, this can even lead to issues where we lose touch of who we are.
I have seen this happen to so many people. They have built up so much armor, they really believe that they “don’t care what others think about them.” In fact, this becomes part of the identity that they want others to see. It makes sense, because it seems like it can offer safety. It also disconnects people, and can cut off a true sense of love and belonging. This is because authenticity is needed in order to truly have moments of belonging.
This is why it is critical to embrace vulnerability. We have to accept that we can’t control the perceptions of others, and be ourselves at the same time. Sounds scary, right? It is mortifying. Sometimes it’s going to work out well. Other times, you’ll end up feeling hurt and betrayed.
So where do you start when it all feels like too much?
I don’t recommend a deep dive into vulnerability, without first identifying your boundaries. And I recommend that you really know how you feel, and what you want, in order to reflect on these boundaries. Otherwise, you risk just getting reactive to others, their feedback, and their criticisms. However, when you practice identifying your emotions and your needs, you’ll be able to better handle those really difficult times. You’ll feel like you can reach out for support as you need it. Also, you’ll be grounded to the values that are getting you to try these connections in the first place.
Keep in mind that this is a practice.
When dealing with something as vague as authenticity, remember that it will change and undulate. Sometimes it will feel clear what you’re doing and why you’re doing it. Other times, you’ll feel confused. This is why it’s important to be gentle and forgiving of yourself. It’s also important to find those people who are able to offer you non-judgmental support. This will help you re-enter the arenas as needed, and celebrate and appreciate the successes as well.