The pursuit of authenticity is a big thing right now. It is not necessarily always a good thing, though. There are times when being truly authentic equates with being unnecessarily contrary. Suffice it to say that there is room for not being authentic from time to time.
One of the difficulties of pursuing genuine authenticity is not understanding its limits. To be authentic is to be true to yourself. It is to be the person you truly are even if that means you do not live up to the expectations of others. But are there times when being your authentic self is inappropriate? Absolutely.
- Dressing for the Occasion
Plurawl is a New York City boutique clothing brand emphasizing authenticity within the LatinX community. Their LatinX T-shirts, sweatshirts, and hats encourage wearers to be proud of who they are. The brand encourages them to be proud of their heritage and culture. Plurawl’s message is a good one, but it has its limits.
You may feel that an important element of your authentic self is naturism (nudism). You routinely participate in activities related to the lifestyle. But it would be wholly inappropriate for you to show up for a funeral or wedding wearing nothing at all. Such occasions represent a time to set aside your authentic self and put on some clothes.
- Responding to the Moment
Being authentic can play out in how you react to certain circumstances. Knowing that, there are times when responding to the moment calls for not being true to your authentic self. A good example is showing compassion to someone who is sick.
Maybe your personality is one that generally lacks compassion. Doesn’t let a cold or the flu slow you down. You suck it up and get on with life despite not feeling well. But then you find yourself in the presence of someone who doesn’t handle sickness as well. That may be a time to suppress your own thoughts and feelings and show a little compassion.
- Participating in the Working World
One of the most difficult environments in which to be truly authentic is the working world. There is nothing wrong with that. In fact, it is almost a necessity simply because the working world brings together so many different people in hopes of getting them all to contribute to a common goal.
Anyone who has operated a successful business understands that the working environment cannot be chaotic. It has to be organized and structured. There have to be standards. Sometimes, those standards require employees to deny their authentic selves to some degree. There is no shame in that.
Maybe you are the type of person who likes to fly by the seat of your pants. That’s all well and good. But what if you work as a subway driver in New York City? You cannot just do whatever you feel like doing with your train. You cannot just stop in the middle of the morning run and take 30 minutes to check your social media feeds. People are depending on you to get where they need to go. So you have to suppress your more flighty self while you’re at work. Either that, or you have to find another job.
- A Time and for Everything
The point of all of this is to say that there is room for being someone other than your authentic self. There are times when you have to meet the expectations of others, even if they don’t match who you are. It is nothing to avoid or be ashamed of. It is part of being human.