Authentic. It’s word that’s tossed around quite a bit-especially if you’re on social media. There are books on it, podcasts, and too many articles to count that tackle this subject. It’s what we’re encouraged to be and how we’re encouraged to live.
But what does being authentic mean in general and what does it mean to you as an individual?
In principle it’s pretty simple: to be authentic means to be true to yourself. It means dropping all pretense and embracing who you are, accepting the good, the bad, and the ugly and putting it out there into the world.
Here’s the thing. At some point in time, this desirable quality became more cliché than a standard, earning more than 25 million tags on Instagram by itself plus its variations. Does this mean being authentic holds any less value? And how can we tell who’s being real and who isn’t?
After considering this for a bit I came up with this answer: if you think about the moments in your life that are meaningful, and I mean truly meaningful, you will always find a degree of realness, of true authenticity. A heartfelt compliment, a good book, a night out with friends: each of these hold moments of genuine authenticity.
The reason we recognize it is that we’re primed to respond to it. And we’re primed to respond to it in kind. In short, we know it when we see it. And it feels good. It feels true. It feels like something real, which is why it resonates so strongly with us. So while the word itself has become overused, the value is still very much intact because we can feel it when we experience it-just like we can sense when people are being disingenuous.
Trust your gut!
What does this mean for being authentic on social media? Honestly, it all depends on what you want to put out there. We’re all different so how we approach what we share-should we share-will also be different.
It’s all up to you and your comfort level. You don’t have to put everything out there. You don’t have to share the “bad and the ugly” to be real. Being real? Being authentic? It’s personal. If you want to share only happy moments because that’s your vibe, you should! If you want to open up about a difficult moment, go for it. And if you like to talk about your political leanings, favorite restaurants or clothing shops, that’s also great.
Share a little, share a lot, share nothing, share everything! On your platform it is all up to you. It doesn’t make you any less authentic than the person constantly chasing down their goals or the mom balancing work and family. It’s all about being true to yourself and revealing however much or little of that part of you as you want.
Why? Because it strikes a chord. It’s what speaks to you, and what you choose to put out there reflects a very real, sincere part of who you are as an individual. You don’t have to fit a cookie cutter mold, you don’t have to play games. You are not defined by a hashtag nor are you any less valid because of an algorithm.
You are the only you in the world and that, my friends, already makes you the most authentic you in this crazy thing we call life. And I think that’s pretty cool. Share what you like, endorse what you love, and as the bard said: “To thine own self be true.”