3 Tips to Authentic Living
With the inundation of career advice books and websites promising the secret to success for women, it’s difficult to figure out the best course of action.
- Do we lean in?
- Lean out?
- Be “one of the boys?”
- Be feminists?
- Be feminine?
This new series seeks to honor the savviness of Career Girls who can cut through the sea of well-intentioned advice by sharing easily accessible reminders on how to mindfully navigate life, find our inner compass, and craft our unique paths.
For the majority of us, external forces have a greater influence than we would like to admit in how we choose our careers, how we behave in the workplace, and how we determine major life decisions. Societal expectations and familial obligations often pressure us to put on a mask every morning; a mask of an identity of whom we think we’re supposed to be. Yet the mask feels heavy and takes up a whole lot of energy to keep on. We are exhausted having playacted throughout the day.
Imagine the freedom of removing that mask and using all that energy for something more productive and fun. The act of removing the mask is therefore foundational to any discussion about successful careers: to live authentically.
In recent years, case studies and books focus on how leaders who exude authenticity and genuineness with credibility can mobilize and attract others to follow them. Sounds easy, right? Remove the mask and just be ourselves.
But, what if we have NO clue who we are or feel like there are several versions of ourselves?
The truth is, most of us are lost or feel like we are different people under different circumstances at some point in our lives. And those feelings are absolutely OK. Living authentically can redirect our energy for positivity. However, living authentically is not an excuse for selfish behavior or abandoning responsibilities. Living authentically is compromising with others without compromising oneself. By living authentically, we can embrace moments of identity confusion not as paralyzing fear, but as opportunities for growth and change.
As biochemist Dr. Libby Weaver, says,
If you knew who you were, you would be amazed at yourself.
- Assume support — We often find ourselves living with a mask when we are in constant fear of other’s disapproval. We agree to things we don’t want or avoid opportunities. The constant need for approval limits risk-taking and effective decision-making. Yet by assuming that others will support our decisions regardless, we release the need to be validated by others to our own detriment. Assume that what feels right to you will be welcomed and supported by everyone. It can free you of inaction based on fear and hiding behind a mask.
- Imagine you at 93 – Have you ever met someone in their 90s? For the most part, these individuals speak their minds (sometime a little too freely) and live their lives as they choose. Aware of their mortality, they simply could care less what other people think. Imagine you are 93. Would you still put on that mask? Would you regret spending your life behind a mask? f the answer is no, why would you live someone else’s life now?
- Stay present – Most decisions lie in the nebulous greys of life – no absolute rights or wrongs. Overanalyzing the “what ifs” can be overwhelming, leading us to revert to the default of doing what we think others expect of us. Consider young children. They are these confident little beings who are simply themselves. They don’t worry about the what ifs; they are ever present in the moment. By remaining present, we can make the best decision based on the information we have in front of us, setting forth motion for other good decisions to come. We can stop wondering what if or what others think, and rather, ground ourselves in the moment and our true selves.