On Being Authentic…

Sunrise
Sunrise over Siem Reap, Cambodia. Photo Credit: Kanvara Suchitta

I read a blogpost yesterday titled ‘Five Tips to make Yourself Unpopular’. The point of view presented was that if you were to be ‘authentic’ or true to yourself it might make you unpopular among those whom you interact with.

The post went on to outline the choices that you would have to make for you to be true to yourself.

I am posting my response here since this is something very important. We are judged by the number of likes, clicks, shares and recommends and how popular we are on social media. We try to manipulate this through various means like SEOs, flooding social media with ‘listicles’, and posting indiscriminately so that quantity is measured over the quality of the thoughtfulness of craft and readership is measured in clicks.

Here’s my response;

I like the theme of authenticity but do not see the connection of having to make a choice to be popular or unpopular. Authenticity is what makes you who you are and defines your character, which you then use to define the world and society with which you interact, and not the other way around where the world and society defines who you ought to be.

If it’s the former, then you are guided by your principles and values in making your choices and the consequences that come with them. If it’s the latter then you let the world and the society with which you interact influence your choices but are still personally responsible for the consequences.

True authenticity allows us to pursue the best in ourselves irrespective of what the world thinks. In your reasoning one is also required to be judgmental between ‘popular’ and ‘unpopular’ and ‘authenticity and inauthenticity’ which are value judgements that are subjective and relative. I would feel very uncomfortable doing that.

To answer your three questions;

  • Five years from now, I would like to say that I was true to myself and my character.
  • Ten years from now I would not really care what others say about me as long as I was true to myself, my values and principles.
  • If I were to die today my last thought would be “I’m at peace with myself for being who I was.”

John Wooden, known as ‘Coach’ who led the UCLA Basketball Team to record wins that are still unmatched sums it up quite appropriately when he said, ‘Be more concerned with your character than your reputation because your character is what you really are, whilst your reputation is merely what others think of you.’

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