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What does embracing true authenticity actually look like?
Or, even more important, what does true authenticity actually feel like?
This is something that I’ve been working towards understanding for myself. For others, embracing authenticity may feel a bit different than how it feels for me, but that’s the whole point, right?
Everyone’s self-discovery journey is different, but the one point we can all relate to is the goal of your self-discovery journey is to find what’s authentically true to you.
It’s letting go of all of the expectations that society, your family, friends, or others have put upon you throughout your life.
It’s no longer caring about other people’s opinions of you, as much as possible.
It’s making choices that feel good to you. Not forced.
Of course, not all of this is easy all of the time, but embracing true authenticity does bring a sense of ease into your life.
Because you’re finally being yourself.
This sounds like a simple concept, but think about this: how often do you make a decision, and weigh in on what other people think? How they’ll respond?
How often do you take the time to turn inward, and figure out how you feel about the decision you’re making for yourself?
Sure, sometimes it is helpful to turn to others for advice, but everyone is giving you their own opinions based on their own historical experience. They’re not you. They’re not living YOUR life. They don’t have the same thoughts, opinions, and values that you do. No matter how close they are to you in your life or how long they’ve known you, at the end of the day their opinion could be very different than what’s truly right for you.
One of the most common examples I’ve seen in my life is when a couple is planning a wedding. I’d say about 80% of the time if I’m talking to someone who’s getting married soon, and I ask how the wedding planning process is going, they’ll take a huge sigh and say, “It’s kind of turned into its own thing.”
Translation: Our family took over, we’re inviting too many people, and it isn’t really the wedding we want, but that’s just the way it goes.
Now that my fiancé and I have been planning our own wedding, I completely understand how a wedding can have a mind of its own. I’ve seen so many stories on Reddit, Facebook Group posts from brides, and friends venting about a specific situation where they’re dealing with a difficult family member wanting to take control of decisions, or feel obligated to invite 200+ people when they really want to elope.
Even during our own planning process, I’ve gone into a similar rabbit hole when it came to deciding our guest list. My fiancé and I went into planning with every intention to stay true to ourselves, and only do what we wanted to do for our wedding. Thankfully, we have very understanding and supportive parents, family, and friends who aren’t forcing their opinions onto us like many other couples do, which does make things a bit easier. But the challenge with the guest list came down to finances.
We don’t want to spend a fortune on our wedding, not when we wanted to have a great destination honeymoon and save for a house.
What costs the most at a wedding? People.
And I have a large family.
After tons of back and forth, we came to a decision to have only 50-60 guests. I still feel a little bad not inviting quite a few people from my family (we’re sticking with aunts and uncles only for extended family), but at the end of the day it’s what we wanted.
We didn’t like the idea of having so many people attending that we wouldn’t be able to eat our own dinner, or might not say hi to everyone. Or my fiancé would have to be introduced to some friends or extended family on my side because they’ve never met before (we live a decent distance from most of my family)..at the wedding. It didn’t feel right.
At one point we considered a microwedding of 20 people, but that didn’t feel good to me either. It pained me to not have certain friends attend, when I’ve pictured having a solid number of bridesmaids for most of my life (we have seven, which isn’t huge, but definitely on the higher quantity side).
No large wedding, and no microwedding, so halfway it is!
And you know how we felt after we came to that decision?
The weight of debating back and forth about what to do finally lifted. Everything else about wedding planning has become so much easier after that decision was made, and because we stayed true to ourselves.
Any time we make any other decisions for wedding planning, if we start to see the decision-making process becoming difficult, or there’s a lot of resistance to making something work, we take a step back and figure out if it’s something we actually want to do.
Usually, we ended up scrapping the original idea altogether.
Simple is better for us. I know it’s not for everyone, but with our busy lives and other priorities, keeping things simple has made us feel so much more at ease for planning this wedding.
And that’s the type of ease that you feel the more you stay true to yourself.
That’s what embracing authenticity feels like.
It takes quite a bit of practice, I will admit. Making some of these hard decisions lately comes with a lot of years of internal work, therapy, and self-discovery.
It’s so much easier defaulting to what’s expected of you, or what you “should” do.
Even if you’re tackling work responsibilities, creative projects, or figuring out a problem in your life…tuning into your instincts and what they’re trying to tell you is imperative to living authentically. When you listen to your authentic voice, that’s when you’ll discover your most original, creative solutions, and often your best ones at that.
Embracing authenticity doesn’t always mean that you’re posting “honest” unfiltered photos on Instagram, or spurting out curse words to be “real.” (Unless that’s your thing, then by all means, go for it!)
Authenticity can simply be making choices for yourself that feel right.
Choosing authenticity isn’t selfish.
It’s being yourself.
My question for you: how do you embrace true authenticity?