Authenticity doesn’t require massive change, it requires the bravery to be vulnerable.

We’ve all had the experience of getting what we want only to realize it didn’t make us happy. This happens all the time with small things and we don’t overthink it. It’s not an existential crisis when we thought we’d be happy with that vacation, new outfit or car. We know those won’t create the meaningful change we are looking for. But some of those bigger wishes and dreams hold the potential to transform us into a happier version of ourselves, right? I mean, if I had a fully outfitted camper van, I could take off this weekend to the closest National Park and reconnect with my inner being. If I reach that next goal or accomplishment in my career I will finally feel successful and can relax into who I am for the rest of my earthly existence. If we go into these pursuits and distractions knowing that while they may contribute to our happiness, they cannot be the main source of our satisfaction, then we are less likely to be disappointed after we have them. For many, we aren’t moving through life with this level of intentionality, but instead just responding to life the same way we see others do it. And the loudest others are telling us that things, titles and accolades are where happiness lives.

“If you don’t know who you truly are, you’ll never know what you really want.”

― Roy T. Bennett

It’s this logic, bound in the material world, that leads to disappointment and stalled-out plans for growth.  We chase things, experiences and accomplishments to fortify ourselves against shame, self-doubt and insecurity. This method of finding happiness isn’t working because we are seeking a physical answer to an emotional and spiritual question. Jungian theory and Depth Psychology talk about how the first part of our life is focused on external achievements and accumulations; career, family, a certain financial level, etc. For many, around midlife, we have made enough progress in these areas that we begin to realize they aren’t as fulfilling as we thought they would be. What do we do now? We have half a lifetime left if we’re lucky. Do we double-down on our methods, accomplishing and accumulating more? Or do we answer the soul’s call to turn inwards and explore life soul-first.

“I will not stay, not ever again – in a room or conversation or relationship or institution that requires me to abandon myself.”

― Glennon Doyle, Untamed

Authenticity isn’t a destination, it is the path, a way of moving through our lives. It is choosing to be honest about who we are and what we want. It is making decisions to stop abandoning ourselves to avoid conflict, risk or change. This sounds hard and scary because we’ve been giving away our power and outsourcing our satisfaction. It doesn’t require massive change, it requires the bravery to be vulnerable. It takes bravery to take off that mask. It takes bravery to make choices that look different than everyone else’s. Living a life we can truly be happy with is an inside job. It means unearthing who we really are under our fear and shame. It means following the clues our soul has left us to figure out who we are and then being more of that. Be more of yourself, with rigorous honesty. The accumulations and accomplishments that flow from your authentic self will be truly amazing.

“When you stop living your life based on what others think of you, real life begins. At that moment, you will finally see the door of self acceptance opened.”

― Shannon L. Alder