Authenticity. A buzzword to be sure, but an important concept nevertheless. By definition, to be “authentic” is to be genuine. True to self. Real. To be authentic is to act most like yourself, whoever that might be. It is important to cherish and build upon the nuances that make up who you are because it’s when you are deeply yourself that you are the most powerful, influential, and present.
Most importantly, though, when you are truly connected with who it is you actually are, you find your people. But in order to do that, you need to figure out who you are outside of others first. It is absolutely fundamental to attracting the right relationships, romantic and otherwise.
Now, this is not to say you have to go live in the woods for a year and completely isolate yourself from humanity. However, you do have to spend quite a bit of quality time on your own and get to know yourself better.
The reason for this is that you can’t really find those who are meant for you if you’re false advertising. Because as soon as you take off the mask, as soon as you pipe up about what it is you really need, they’re gonna bolt. After all, when they’re used to giving you the bare minimum, a change in frequency will be startling. It’s not what they signed up for.
Sure, that’s one way to figure out who is interested in you and who really isn’t. But that sounds exhausting and painful to me. The alternative then is to be upfront about what you’re looking for and need from the beginning. The other way is to actually behave in a way that is true to you.
For some, this may sound like common sense but it isn’t for everyone. It sure as hell wasn’t for me! You see, I am someone who has struggled deeply with people-pleasing. I learned to be a chameleon because I was so terribly afraid of being lonely. Of being left behind. I became someone who would bend in whatever way was needed for anyone who would give me even an inkling of attention, of fake validation. Healthy, I know.
Basically, I got used a whole fucking lot and the truth was that living that way really sucked. It was a surrender of self-respect. It was shallow and draining. And after years of that shape-shifting, I grew tired. Bitter. Angry. Because no matter how much I gave and gave and gave, it was never reciprocated. And I was no martyr. It wasn’t noble to give and give and give. It was just really lonely, unfulfilling, and frankly unsustainable.
I’m 28 now. And for the first time in my life, I am the happiest I have ever been with my relationships. I’m nowhere near perfect yet, I still bend for certain people, but I’m growing stronger. And most importantly, I’ve found my people. The way I did this was manifold:
First, I started becoming more mindful of my people-pleasing tendencies. The first step is awareness as the saying goes, right? When I realized how much of my behavior was rooted in fear, in my need to be liked and approved of, I knew I needed a change. Like, ASAP. Because not only is this a dishonest way to lead your one life, but it’s also not fair to you and frankly to the people you’re trying so desperately hard to please.
Now, when I notice I have the urge to engage in people-pleasing behavior, I take a step back. I reroute my urge into a response that is more aligned with my higher truth. I’m not perfect but I’m getting better. And it feels good!
I also stopped investing in those who didn’t invest in me. I stopped chasing. I stopped trying to convince certain people that I’m worth loving. Part of finding your people is letting go of those who don’t want to be part of your life. Because if they wanted to be, they would be. Trust that.
And, most importantly, I spent more time alone! I started reading books I wanted to read. The articles that piqued my interest. The YouTube videos I thought would add value to my life. Basically, I stopped seeking out experiences I thought would make me more likable and pursued my passions for my own enjoyment.
The results weren’t immediate but gradually I noticed certain people come into my life who made sense. I also saw others leave. And I survived. They were not meant for me. I am at peace with that.
But I also learned who would stay. Who loved me for me. Not what I could do for them. Just me. And the feeling is mutual. I’ve found my people. And it feels good to be home.