I recently took part in an online yoga class centred around Pride Month. I absolutely loved it. The key message was beautiful, it didn’t matter that I was not from the LGBTQ+ community – all that mattered was that I was there, I showed up and while I was there, I was allowed to be my authentic self; with no judgement, no expectation and no need to be anyone but myself. I find my yoga practice very emotional; I often finish my practice feeling full, feeling a sense of acceptance and generally just feeling at one with myself. I find that really powerful – having that connection with my being.
For years, I struggled to be the real me. I am from an Indian background, in a western world – with one foot in each camp but never really being one or the other. I wanted my friends to embrace me, so I’d adapt and tone down my ‘Indian-ness’, I’d want my parents to see me as the good Indian girl and so I’d turn up my ‘Indian-ness’ and dial down the western. It was a constant struggle, a constant fight. I felt guilty all the time and often I would find myself lying to my friends or family just so that I could fit in. That’s a hard place to be. It’s hard not knowing who you really are. Most people then finish school and go off to university and go on a voyage of self discovery. I never had that, I studied on the job. Then I became split further, I was the student, the professional, the friend, the daughter… but never really me.
While my experience is not the same as those in the LBGTQ+ community; I identify with the importance of being my authentic self and feeling comfortable with being myself and showing the real me to the community around me.
I then think about social media and the fact that most of us are curating the life we want others to see, how can we really be authentic?
What is authenticity?
“To be authentic, we must cultivate the courage to be imperfect — and vulnerable. We have to believe that we are fundamentally worthy of love and acceptance, just as we are. I’ve learned that there is no better way to invite more grace, gratitude and joy into our lives than by mindfully practicing authenticity.” – Brene Brown
Authenticity is about being present and living in the moment with conviction and confidence while staying true to yourself. An authentic person lives by their values and when you live authentically, your integrity cannot be questioned. You know what you’re going to get and they are predictable; by that I mean they put you at ease, that predictable nature means you don’t have to question them as a person.
How to be your authentic self?
So the question is, how can we be our most authentic self?
- Be True To Who You Are:
While this might seem so obvious, this is something that we often fall short of. Just be honest, trustworthy and follow through on what you say you’re going to do. If you say you’re going to be somewhere at 10am, then be there. For me, my time keeping is really bad and most of my friends and family know this about me. I am consistently late but they know that I will do my best to be there on time. I’ve now started to give time frames but I know that my time keeping is an important work in progress and something that really matters to me because I don’t want anyone to feel like their time isn’t precious to me.
Check in with yourself continuously and trust yourself. Your gut instinct knows best and it’s when we stray from that that we find ourselves living an inauthentic life.
- Look Inwardly:
It’s so important to be reflective and think about the actions that you take. Thinking deeply about who you are as a person – by consciously reflecting on your thoughts, you’re able to be more considerate of the people around you. A simple example is my neighbour, she’s loud and brash, she’s got her music on really loudly however I notice that she turns it off at around 7-8pm and she’s never bothered my late in to the night or early in the morning. I’m aware that she’s recently out of a difficult marriage and that she’s lonely, for me to take away something that brings her a sense of joy – that would just make me unkind. I also don’t mind her taste in music either.
Be mindful of your thoughts. You are what you think.
- Treat people with Kindness and Respect:
Again, another obvious one – however, so many of us go to standard consumer mode when our food is delayed or our delivery hasn’t arrived on time. We’re not always respectful to the middle man. Is it the waiter or waitresses fault if the food is delayed? No. So why do they bear the brunt of your anger. Also, how do you feel when someone treats you like crap? Not great, I’m sure. Why would you want to inflict that on someone? Being kind has the ability to completely change a situation.. just like being an a-hole can do the complete opposite.
- Listen before you speak and be in that moment:
This is a hard one for me. I am a big talker and I always have something to say, yet when I stop and really listen – that’s when I feel really connected. It’s again a work in progress and I feel like at times, I have to force that but when I really hear what’s being said to me – it’s eye opening. Being present in the moment and giving my companion at that time my all…that’s a pretty special thing; to not be distracted and really in the moment with them.
When you live in the moment, you’re not mixed up with the worries of tomorrow and the next meeting you have to attend. You’re just there, ready to take in what the world has to offer, that’s a great way to live your life. I hate being around people on their phones the whole time they are with you. They aren’t really there and it feels like they would rather be somewhere else. I remember once, I went out for the day with my cousins. I’d not seen one of them in a really long time, yet he spent the whole time on his phone texting others.. I got to the end of the day and I felt so down; like I wasn’t important and didn’t matter to that person. That isn’t a nice feeling. So, more and more so, I try not to use my phone when I am in the company of others. Yet, our phones are made to be addictive, so it’s a conscious effort.
- Keep your mind open:
Life’s an opportunity to learn. Don’t close your mind off; there’s always another view point. While you may not agree with the viewpoint, hearing other opinions opens your mind. Open mindedness is a component of trust and faith. When you live an open life, anxiety and all the things that go along with it – are left behind.
- Don’t be afraid of who you are:
I started this post talking about Pride and the joy I felt taking a yoga class that celebrated what made us who we are and appreciating our differences. You are who you are. You’re not your sibling, your parents or your friends, you’re not the influencer whose life you crave, you’re not the pretty girl from school that all the boys loved (well maybe you are) – You are you and you should be unapologetically who you are. Don’t be afraid of that person, because that person is incredible, that person is someone that deserves to show themselves to the world. Don’t be a shell of who you can be. We have one life.. live it completely.
Living an authentic life, where you are true to who you are is truly beautiful. It takes courage but it’s worth it, right?