I was always puzzled by the phrase "be true to yourself". Then, at the age of 50, I started to examine my own life and was horrified to discover that we lie to ourselves all the time. For the first 50 years of my life, I was so happy living on the surface and doing everything possible to avoid asking the question - who am I? I have spent the last year doing everything possible to try and answer this question, and this is what I have discovered on the road to trying to live a more authentic life.
1) Remove the Mask
It is exhausting being someone you are not - trying to look, dress, speak and own the things you think are important to impress people you don't even like. I then discovered that people are so busy with their shit that they don't care about the act you are putting on.
2) Be Selfish
I have discovered that there is good selfishness and bad selfishness. The latter is narcissism and there is nothing authentic about that pathology. I gave up a life of security and stability because I could not be the person I wanted to be. It hurt like hell and I do sometimes regret it. I walked away from an 18-year marriage because I realized that if I stayed, it may have destroyed me.
3) Experiences are more important than Possessions
We like to own nice things - cars, homes, clothes, and other shit, but these things end up owning us. They define who we are and mask our true selves. The search for authenticity involves doing things that are meaningful such as helping and connecting with others.
4) Be Kind
Kindness and niceness are often seen as weaknesses. I have noticed an increase in Machiavellian advice on social media where men are being told to be cutthroat and ruthless. There is nothing more authentic than genuine kindness.
5) Embrace Your Weaknesses and be Vulnerable
This is the hardest one for me because I come from a family where you never show weakness or complain. Life is hard because society is cruel and judgemental. It will always make us feel inadequate. We need to embrace our shortcomings and learn to laugh at our foolishness. We need to get comfortable with being vulnerable.