Question for you..
Can you honestly say you are able to distinguish between your true desires and inherited desires? For many of us, our satisfaction, validation and success is so enmeshed in how others see us. If so, then can we really call ourselves authentic and true to ourselves? Some people will argue that conformism is an inevitable aspect of life but then I do have to question why many people are conflicted between these two parts. In my counselling experience, I have found this conflict to be a major source of pain and frustration for many who feel unable to express themselves authentically, to go against the norm and stand out from the crowd, rather than fit in. There are those who all their lives have lived by standards of others and followed the crowd, totally oblivious and unaware that they can choose their own path if they learned to look within. Yet they too face conflicts and struggles although they might not consciously know why, until they begin to explore and unpack.
As usual I like to relate my thoughts back to my own story and I have so many to tell. So here goes…
How I ditched Authenticity for a Pair of Uggs
Every day I am bombarded with ideas which I have to fight off because they are not mine and do not reflect me. Even the simple petty little things like choice of clothes and shoes.
I remember about 7 years ago, being in a shoe shop and fighting what now seems like a childish inner conflict. I had gone to buy a pair of UGG boots, which was the trend at the time. In the same store I saw very similar pair of sheepskin boots which looked everything like the UGG pair, except they were just under £100 less and were a less known brand. I actually preferred the colour of the less expensive boots and definitely liked the fact that they weren’t as pricey. Yet what should have been a quick and easy decision turned into a good hour of agonising. What was I agonising about? How others would perceive me if I wore the less expensive pair? Would they think I was cheap or poor? Unable to afford the well-known brand? Wearing UGGs seemed to portray success and stylishness far more than the other brand. I went back and forth in my head (poor retail assistant!) until I finally decided I was being silly and purchased the less well-known brand. Guess What? I could never wear those boots without feeling inferior, inadequate (sad right?) in the end I gladly gave them away and went and purchased my desired UGGs (sucker!!).
All is not lost! I reclaimed Authenticity at the airport
Okay so that was at least 7 years ago and I have come a long way since, I am so much more self-aware and courageous to not depend on people’s opinions. But that does not mean I don’t struggle with the same conflicts. I remember back in 2014, at Johannesburg airport, on my way back to the UK, I decided to buy a pair of sunglasses. After trying a number of designer brands which honestly were really flashy, expensive and not even to my taste or style, I found a gorgeous pair with orange and blue strips on the sides and just suited my face. I loved them. I was like “Yes, I want these ones” and was even more pleased when the attendant told me the price. Only snag though, they weren’t quite as well known a brand. For a split second the same thought I had with the UGG boots situation began to resurface. But this time I was able to quickly give me a good kick up the bum, Nigerian style.“My friend, will you move from here and go and buy the glasses!! Nonsense!!”
What does being Authentic look like for me now?
It really is about being courageous enough to choose what I intuitively feel is the right path for me, without fearing rejection or isolation for being different.
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