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Going to the Venice Carnival has always been on my bucket list so when I got the opportunity to visit last year, I was thrilled (so thrilled that I returned this year too!)!   The Venice Carnival was every bit as magical as I imagined, maybe even more. And of course, a big part of the Carnival is the dressing up and wearing of masks, a tradition that dates back centuries.  And as I admired all the elaborate costumes and masks all around me, I couldn’t help but wonder ‘who is beneath the mask?’  Who is the real person behind all the outward pomp and flair?  At best, all you could see was a glimpse of eyes beneath the masks.

And while the Venice Carnival was magical and fun and lasts only a couple of weeks, it made me wonder about the ‘invisible’ masks we often wear as people, sometimes throughout our lives.  Masks that depict who we feel we should be instead of who we truly, authentically are.  And with constant reminders from social and mainstream media of who we ‘should’ be, the pressure is on to keep those masks in place.

But being someone you’re not is exhausting and you’ll know this if this is something you’ve experienced in your own life.  The quote ‘why blend in when you were born to stand out’ holds true!  But standing out from the crowd and being authentically you can be scary, it’s so much easier to conform and fit in, to be accepted. We humans crave acceptance after all, even if it costs us our true selves.

I remember starting my first job in London many years ago. After a few weeks into my corporate job I started to notice that I seemed to be the only person dressing in bright colours.  In fact, I wore a bright purple outfit to my interview, ha! This was ‘me’ back then.  But of course, as time went on, I started thinking hmm maybe I should wear black and navy blue like everyone else?  I’m sticking out like a sore thumb!  I don’t want people to think I’m looking for attention!  And the last thing I wanted to do was draw attention to myself!  So, over the next few months, my wardrobe slowly morphed from bright and colourful to muted colours that would help me blend into the background of everyone else in the office. It wasn’t me but I felt I fitted in more and this was more ‘acceptable’ in a corporate environment. And that’s just one small example of how we can slowly lose our authenticity.  All the small acts of inauthenticity soon add up.

So in a world where we often feel pressurised to conform, how can we be more authentic? Here are three ways you can start making the journey towards being more authentic today. And I say journey because sometimes we stop and realise that we are so far off track from being our true authentic self that it’s going to take a lot of backtracking and self-discovery to become more authentic.

1 |  Observe yourself and learn

I find observing myself to be a great way to learn, grow and improve in all areas of my life. At the end of every day, ask yourself ‘was I my true, authentic self today?’  Think of any instances you weren’t and ask yourself why?  What could you have done differently?  What will you do differently if a similar situation comes up?  Maybe you agreed with something someone said because you didn’t want to offend them or give an opposing, but honest, viewpoint.  Perhaps you can note down that next time, you will speak your truth and not be afraid of having a different point of view.  It’s all about building that self-awareness, learning from it and making small improvements every day.  Journalling is a great way to explore your thoughts, feelings and actions along your journey to being more authentic. I created and use my own hybrid planner-journal to keep me focused on the things that matter, both internal and external.

Find out more about my planner-journal here!

2 |  Trust your intuition

We all have that inner guidance system within us, that small, still voice.  Learn to listen to it and to trust it!  Nowadays, we are so consumed with looking for answers externally – we follow all these people on social media telling us to do this and that, we take a gazillion courses and read a gazillion books and then become more confused than ever.  If we take the time to listen to ourselves, the answers are within us.  Each of us is so unique and different, there simply can’t be a ‘one size fits all’ solution that suits everyone, only YOU know what’s best for you and how to truly live in alignment with your True Authentic Self.  Make time every day to tune into your intuition and listen to what it’s telling you.  Being someone who consumed SO much external information myself, I have learned the huge importance of instead turning within to discover my Authentic Self and live in alignment with it every day.

3 |  Live life with purpose

When you live life with purpose, it’s a lot easier to know what aligns with your True Self and what doesn’t.  I used to be someone who said yes to a lot of things to please people but did not align with who I truly was.  I would just go with the flow and wonder why I felt frustrated a lot of the time but this was because I was not doing things that aligned with who I truly was.  When I took the time to ask myself what my purpose was, what I wanted to achieve in the grander scheme of things, what I wanted to do with my life (rather than what I should do or what others expected of me), I was able to identify the things I was doing and the time I was wasting on things that were out of alignment with the real me. 

If you’d like a free worksheet to help you discover your purpose, read my How to Discover Your Purpose blog post and download the free worksheet 😊

Our ethos is that each and every one of us was born to flourish and be all that we were destined to be!  Being the real, authentic you will put you well on the way to doing that!