Being Authentic

Authenticity is a premium these days. It’s hard for most people to trust what’s real, or who’s real, or what they think is real.

Institutions haven’t garnered our trust too well in recent years: banks, mainstream media, corporations and politics have corrupted our faith and left us hungry for what’s real. Products seem to get more expensive for more inferior quality, and we latch onto those that are perceived as more “authentic” or “genuine” or stand for something: Apple, viral social media stars, Tom’s shoes, reality television, Zappos and Whole Foods come to mind as examples.

And through our day-to-day interactions with others, we stifle authenticity and
vulnerability so well with others. We get so used to interacting with each other through facades, or impressions of ourselves that we want to share with the world, that our true selves get taken over and lost. Sometimes we’re afraid to be real, to show ourselves with all of our flaws, scuffs and imperfections. We don’t want others to see us as inferior, or wholly reject us.

Being authentic takes risks. It takes courage to offer up something to someone that could be putting ourselves out on the line, to be seen in a negative light. It breaks down all the work we do each day to primp and spruce up our egos – the part of ourselves we want the world to see, which isn’t necessarily the “real” us all the time.

People crave authenticity, because there is an absence of it in the world. We want things and people we can rely on, that we can bank our trust in.

We want people who we can believe in, and we’ve attuned ourselves to see through what’s fake or opaque. I think people have gotten sharper about what’s phony, and what’s not, and the premium placed on authenticity is so great now. We long to connect with what (and who) is real and genuine.

Real men can be vulnerable and not need to be all ego, all the time. I think we can learn to be authentic, which means taking risks with others to show our true selves. We can still be men, but we can learn to be better men through being authentic and risk showing our true selves to others, as hard as that may be to do.

I find that none of the irrational or imaginary things we think will happen when we take the risks to be ourselves actually materialize. People aren’t as hung up about it as we are in our minds. They don’t reject us, they typically don’t think less of us… hell, they’re too busy worrying about their own lives to really care too much about the same things we care about.

I don’t mean this in a cynical way, but all the mental energy and thoughts we give people usually plays out to nothing. People want to push aside the games to get to the real you.

I find that people magnetize themselves to genuine or authentic people, because they’re hungry for it, and the ones that do indeed go away aren’t looking for authenticity anyway.

You’re going to attract the right people and situations into your life when you present your real self. They’re going to want to be with you because you have what they want: what’s genuine and what’s real. You are authentic.

So, know that you don’t know a lot. Admit your fears. Learn to laugh at yourself. Don’t take yourself too seriously. Admit failure. Express your negative feelings, or positive feelings for that matter. Don’t puff yourself up with your money, career status, friends, or your situation. Tell the people you care about that you care about them. Live from the inside out, and be authentic. Risk exposure and vulnerability, and you’ll bring in a lot into your life.

About Jason

As "The Man That Men Will Talk To," Jason Fierstein, MA, LPC is a private practice counselor and psychotherapist for men and couples in the greater Phoenix, Arizona, area. He works with struggling men to find happiness in their lives, and with their wives.
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