11 simple ways to be a more authentic person every day

To be unapologetically authentic in a world fueled by artificial intelligence, petty politics, and upholding an Instagram “image” is no easy feat. The pressure to “fit in” can be fierce—whether it’s at work, online, or even in your own family. 

Being authentic doesn’t have to be complicated. It can be as simple as declining an invitation just because you don’t feel like going.

Here are 11 easy-ish ways to live life by your own brand of rules. 

1) Don’t be afraid to communicate how you feel

Did the server screw up your order? Did your new hair stylist get heavy-handed with the scissors despite your directions? Is your mother’s (or mother-in-law’s) outspoken opinion of your choice of living room decor driving you up the wall? 

There’s nothing wrong with politely but firmly pointing out when you’re not happy with something or with asserting your own opinion—especially when it concerns you. 

So send that restaurant order back with a smile. Tell your stylist that the haircut wasn’t what you had in mind. When it comes to your mother (or mother-in-law), well what can we say, except to graciously stand your ground. 

2) Authenticity is also about the way we communicate

It’s not just what we say, it’s how we say it. 

Being authentic means making eye contact and not looking away when someone is speaking to us. It also means speaking in a clear and simple manner. 

Also make sure that your voice matches what you say. Some situations call for compassion while others might need a firmer tone of voice but still being respectful. 

3) Align your actions with your values

Authenticity is also about actions. 

I recall a rather recent experience with a client of mine. I’ve written articles for this fashion brand regularly for a couple of years with no problems. This time, they asked me to do something “a little bit different” from the usual fashion blogs.

They wondered if I could write some anonymous and fake reviews on a product launch they’d had in the not-so-distant past. They didn’t use the word fake per se, but let’s just say it was implied. It also became evident that this sales tactic was the direction the brand was heading. 

Let me tell you, the payout would have been pretty good. Of course, I politely declined and decided to end our contract. But it wasn’t easy losing a big client like that. 

My income definitely took a hit, but I’m proud to say that my integrity remained intact. I knew I wouldn’t like myself very much if I started down that road. 

The cost of sticking to your guns might feel like you’re shooting yourself in the foot in the short term, but being true to yourself is well worth it. 

4) Being an authentic person doesn’t have to be just about you

Think about yourself in relation to the kind of person you want to be in the world. 

Are you someone who believes it’s noble to help those in need? Do you feel people should do their part taking care of the environment? 

Why not start taking steps in that direction: volunteer one hour a week at a homeless shelter or commit to one Saturday morning a month picking up garbage in your community parks. 

If your schedule is jam-packed there are other ways to help. Maybe donate to a charity that’s important to you. You can also sponsor a child from a third-world country where you pay a certain amount a month to help them have access to food, clean water, and school. 

The point is to have your actions line up with your values for the kind of person you want to be. 

5) Follow your bliss 

Let’s talk about this new best version of you. What would that look like? 

Have you always secretly wanted to paint but your family thought it was a frivolous pursuit and pushed you to be more practical? Do you feel like your most authentic self when you’re out and about in nature but you always seem to get bogged down by endless errands?

American writer Joseph Campbell was ahead of his time when he famously said the path to an authentic life is to “follow your bliss.” 

Sign up for that art class or go to that new gallery. Who knows? Following a passion might even put you en route to the career of your dreams. 

You actually don’t even have to think about the end result. In fact, don’t overthink it.  Simply make the space for one small thing at a time and see what happens. 

To paraphrase Joseph Campbell once again: the next leg of the journey will light up once you’ve taken the leap. 

Take a small leap. And then another. And another. 

6) Rely on your own intuitive power 

Being your best authentic self requires tapping into your intuition. One way to do this is to keep a journal where you regularly write in “stream of consciousness” mode on an issue or problem you’ve been struggling with. 

On a blank page, write out the problem in question form and then just write whatever pops into your head for 15 minutes (set a timer!). 

Make sure not to censor yourself and don’t worry about punctuation. Just keep writing and your authentic self will fill in the blanks. 

With practice, your ideas will become more clear and solutions will start to materialize from your subconscious. You won’t have to go to friends for advice because the answer will always come from the most authentic version of you. 

This exercise is also a great way to discover what is important and authentic for you about anything. Make time for it every day as a way to self-reflect

7) Dress in a way that suits you

Authenticity isn’t just about expressing what’s on the inside. When it comes to the way we look, fashion magazines like to influence what we should wear. On social media, beauty influencers also like to point to what bandwagon we should be getting on asap. 

Be your own trendsetter. Love that “outdated” Bohemian print blouse you’ve been afraid to re-wear? Wear it proudly! Hate having to put on fake eyelashes every time you go out on a night on the town? Wave that magical mascara wand instead!

Be avant garde and play your style game your own way. The great painter Salvador Dali did just that and his famous mustache and surrealist brand of fashion will live on for eternity.  

When it comes to your style “image,” it’s fine to get inspiration from Instagram and fashion trends, but let your biggest “influencer” be you. 

8) Instagram posts don’t have to be “perfect”

There is no place that’s more over-the-top than the online world. Instagram is full of it in a big way. Photos tend to be phony because of heavy filters. 

Don’t get us wrong: Instagram can be a great visual diary. But post things you’re proud of and that you love. Don’t post pictures of your own holiday just so  you can compete with Cousin Amy who’s “living it up” in Costa Rica. 

You also don’t have to look “perfect” because there is no such thing. No makeup and messy hair is beautiful because it’s authentic. You don’t have to post regularly, or even at all. The most exciting aspects of life tend to happen out of the spotlight. 

9) Maintain personal boundaries

Sometimes being your authentic self means saying no to things you would usually have felt obligated to do.

This includes invitations to nights out when you’d rather just spend the night with a book for company. It also includes saying no to the friend who calls every night at nine o’clock to vent about the latest drama in their life. 

Politely decline and say you don’t have the time to chat or that your evenings are full for the foreseeable future. They’ll get the message. 

10) Find your “soul” tribe 

Now we’re not saying that being authentic means you have to live the life of a Buddhist monk and shouldn’t be social. This one can take time to nurture, but living an authentic life means connecting with people who are on the same wavelength as you are. 

These people feed your soul rather than your ego. 

They also respect your boundaries and they love to see you grow. They’re your biggest champions. Once you find these people, keep them on the calendar. 

Ideally, we should strive to build a support system with people who are on their own authentic path

Related: Stay single until you find someone with these 7 traits 

11) Being authentic is also about accountability 

Authenticity isn’t just about being honest with other people: it’s also about being honest with ourselves. This means owning up to any mistakes. We’re human, so it’s going to happen. 

Be gentle with yourself and you’ll find that with time it becomes easier. It’s not a weakness to apologize when you were wrong about something, or if you unintentionally hurt someone’s feelings. 

Being genuine is an important part of being authentic. There will be some seemingly “negative” things that could come up. This could include a fear of being judged by others. Past experiences can also make this difficult. 

There is strength in owning up to our weaknesses. 

Here’s the truth about living an authentic life:

Getting on an authentic path is a journey. There will be times you revert back to your “old” ways to fit in with the crowd or just because it’s easier and expected.

But the more you catch yourself and the more intentional you become about nurturing your authentic self, the easier it will become. You’ll be amazed at this new version of you. 

Picture of Wendy Kaur

Wendy Kaur

Wendy Kaur is a Toronto-based journalist whose work has been published by The Globe & Mail, ELLE USA, ELLE Canada, British Vogue, Town & Country, and others.

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