Infants have no capacity for self-awareness. Then, between 18 and 24 months of age, they become conscious of their own thoughts, feelings, and sensations – embarking on a quest that will consume much of their lives.
For modern Selves, the first shock of self-recognition marks the beginning of a lifelong search for the one true Self and for a feeling of behaving in accordance with that Self that can be called authenticity.
Desire for authenticity guides you in every age and aspect of life. It drives your explorations of work, relationships, play, and prayer. Teenagers and young adults try out friends, fashions, hobbies, jobs, lovers, locations, and living arrangements to see what fits and what is just not me.
Midlifers deepen commitments to career, community, faith, and family that match their self-images, or feel trapped in existences that seem not their own. Elders regard life choices with regret or satisfaction based largely on whether they were true to themselves.
Authenticity is correlated with many aspects of psychological well-being, including vitality, self-esteem, and coping skills. Acting in accordance with your core Self is one of the three basic psychological needs, along with competence and a sense of relatedness.
Yet, contemporary culture mocks the very idea that there is anything solid and true about the self. Cosmetic surgery, psychopharmaceuticals, and perpetual makeovers favor a mutable ideal over the genuine article.
Facebook and tell-all social media carry your wishful identity. Steroids, stimulants and doping transforms your athletic and academic performance. Fabricated memoirs become best-sellers. Speed-dating discounts sincerity. Amid a clutter of counterfeits, your core Self is struggling to assert itself.
It is kind of epidemic right now. People feel profoundly like they are not living from who they really are, their authentic Self, their deepest possibility in the world. The result is a sense of near-desperation.
You experience your inauthenticity as vague dissatisfaction, as a sense of emptiness, or as self-betrayal, on a deeper level as a loss of engagement in some – or many – aspects of your life.
The Hindu Bhagavad Gita suggests you have a duty to act: to realize your full potential in the world, to construct or discover a unique individuality, and thereby to live authentically.
Dare to Be
When a new day begins, dare to smile gratefully.
When there is darkness, dare to be the first to shine a light.
When there is injustice, dare to be the first to condemn it.
When something seems difficult, dare to do it anyway.
When life seems to beat you down, dare to fight back.
When there seems to be no hope, dare to find some.
When you’re feeling tired, dare to keep going.
When times are tough, dare to be tougher.
When love hurts you, dare to love again.
When someone is hurting, dare to help them heal.
When another is lost, dare to help them find the way.
When a friend falls, dare to be the first to extend a hand.
When you cross paths with another, dare to make them smile.
When you feel great, dare to help someone else feel great too.
When the day has ended, dare to feel as you’ve done your best.
Dare to be the best you can
At all times, Dare to be