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Authenticity May Not Be What You Think

I know that I talk about authenticity a lot. But this time, I have a bit of a different perspective on it. It’s a unique perspective that I haven’t really thought about before.

As I get older, I realize how much time I spent in my younger years trying to be someone that I wasn’t.

I did so many things just so I could fit in, whether it was the outfit I wore or the people I hung out with. To be honest, I even hung out with people I may not have actually been friends with if I weren’t trying so hard to be someone else.

Most of the things I did, I did them because everyone else was doing them, not because I really wanted to do them.

At the time, I didn’t even think about the motivations behind my actions and behavior. There were certainly times when I felt unhappy, but I didn’t even understand why.

Back then, I didn’t think about being authentic and true to myself. I just wanted more than anything to fit in.

Authenticity often comes with time and experience.

With age, I have learned the value of being authentic in my life.

But I also learned a valuable lesson about authenticity from my daughter, Olivia, while we were recording our latest Daughter Dearest Podcast.

As we were talking about authenticity, she made a very valid point. She talked about how she’s so young that she doesn’t actually know who she is yet.

It takes time and experience—trial and error—to discover where you want to go in life, who you want to be, and how you want to show up in the world.

As I thought about this, I realized that it’s kind of a high and unrealistic expectation for parents to think that our teenage kids need to be authentic.

Especially when they’re still trying to figure themselves out.

We need to give ourselves and our children some grace.

In each stage of our lives, we change quite a bit.

In preschool and elementary, we’re learning the basics of life—how to read and how to write, how to be social, and how to relate to the world around us.

That world is fairly small and somewhat controlled. Because of this, you are friends with everyone, and life is generally happy.

Then, there is the transition to middle school. Middle school is a really tough time for most kids. They are trying to figure themselves out, and they start seeing life through a different lens.

Then, they move on to high school, where they are still trying to figure themselves out. Expectations are high, and the adults around them are expecting them to know who they are and what they want to do for their future.

But the truth is, most adults are still trying to figure that out because life is never an all-or-nothing thing. It’s constantly changing, and so are we.

Being an adult doesn’t mean we have life figured out.

College is a great place where you can start to grow into yourself. It’s a place where you can find your tribe and make lifelong friends.

You can form study groups, work groups, and dating groups. You can learn new ideas and even test them out with others.

But once you graduate from college and get your first job, you’re once again trying to figure things out. You’re trying to fit in at work and trying to make friends in your personal life.

There’s always going to be a constant shifting and changing even into adulthood.

Because of this, it’s a lot to ask our young people, “Are you being authentic? Is this who you really are?”

The truth is, they don’t know, yet. There are so many changes that happen in such a short period of time.

Our young people need more time and experience to truly be able to say, “This is who I am.”

After all, as adults, are we even sure that we know who we are?

As I’ve thought about my kids and the big changes they are going through, it’s made me stop and ask myself if I am who I want to be.

I think that once we get past that first job stage, we are more able to focus on who we are and the person we want to become.

But there are many adults who are still trying to figure out who they are.

Authenticity is a life-long pursuit.

I’m not saying we shouldn’t try to be authentic in all that we say and do. What I am saying is that we should always do our best to be authentic in the moments we are in.

But as the seasons of our lives change, who we are as a person changes, too.

When I was a young mother, my authentic self was constantly devoted to the needs of my children. I was their mother, and that was authentically me.

However, as my children have grown and are able to fill their own needs, the authentic me has changed.

I am still their mother. And you can bet that if they have a need that I can fill, I will be there in a heartbeat.

But the reality of it is I am growing into a different kind of mother. One who admires my children from a distance as they are living on their own and making their own way in the world.

I am still authentically me. But who I am in relation to my children has significantly changed. I am not the same person I once was.

That’s why it’s sometimes hard for people to say they are being authentic.

Because we go through so many different stages over the years, it’s easy to understand why some people question whether or not they are being their authentic selves.

It’s sometimes hard to look yourself in the mirror and say, “Is this really me? Or am I just trying to fit in again?”

For me, as I’ve gotten older, I really don’t try to fit in anymore. I want to be around the people who like to be around me and who I like to be around myself.

It’s not that I don’t want to make new friends. Of course, I love talking to people!

But if you don’t like me for who I am, I’m not going to change.

This is me.

I have found that our most powerful friendships are with those people who accept us for exactly who we are in the season that we’re in.

And they also accept themselves for exactly who they are. They aren’t trying to fit in. They are just being who they authentically are in whatever season they are in.

That’s what makes special friendships—when we can accept the good, the bad, and the ugly without wanting to change each other.

We are who we are, in a very large part, because of the people who walk with us in every season of our life and allow us to be authentic in the moments while still being able to change in the seasons.

Seasons change, and so do we.

Authenticity isn’t about being the same person throughout your life.

Authenticity is about being the truest version of yourself in whatever season of life you are in.

This definition allows you to be true to who you are in life’s moments while still trying to figure out who you are in the seasons.

It’s about embracing who you are while giving yourself grace for whatever changes may come.

Meet Simone Knego

Simone Knego is an international speaker, award-winning author and two-time TEDx Speaker. Her work has been featured on ABC, NBC, and CBS and in Entrepreneur Magazine and Yahoo News. Her literary contributions have been honored by the National Indie Excellence Award and the NYC Big Book Award. Simone has not only summited Mt. Kilimanjaro, but she is also the heart of a bustling household with six children, three dogs, and one husband of 31 years. As the creator of the REAL Method, Simone continues to inspire and impact teams, fostering growth, and promoting self-discovery. 

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