How to be Authentic
...and overcome your insecurities.
We hate the word “Authenticity” because it’s been played out, used up, and worn down by every marketer and self-help guru who’s ever given advice online…
…but deep down inside, we hate the word “Authentic” because we don’t believe we’re authentic or, worse, that we’re incapable of being authentic.
We hate the word authentic because of our own insecurities.
I should know; I used to deal with this anxiety every time I hit publish.
“Is this article supporting my brand?”
“Is my take on this topic unique?”
“Oh god, not another list post. Is this my best work?”
“Is this post too long?”
“Does anyone care?”
“Will this article help anyone do anything, or is it just filler crap?”
It goes on and on. Every article. Every time I hit publish.
…please, Please, PLEASE, someone hit the Tweet button so I know you love me.
The best of the best:
They’re already killing it every day, in every way imaginable.
Where do the rest of us fit in?
How can we be different when the Internet is filled with amazing, provocative, original thinkers?
Authenticity is mandatory. Originality is NOT.
Originality is often confused with authenticity.
Authenticity: of undisputed origin; genuine.
Originality: the ability to think independently and creatively.
Authenticity and originality are different animals.
If you want to grow an audience. If you want them to love you or at least respect you.
You MUST be authentic.
The thoughts, ideas, concepts, and beliefs you share in your work must be true to you and what you’re trying to accomplish.
There is no requirement for originality.
“The privilege of a lifetime is to become who you truly are.”
~ Carl Jung
This isn’t to say that originality doesn’t help. It does—a lot.
But all your audience wants is you.
Not some filtered, half-erased version you’ve conjured up because you think it’s what you're supposed to be.
“Why, when we know that there’s no such thing as perfect, do most of us spend an incredible amount of time and energy trying to be everything to everyone? Is it that we really admire perfection? No — the truth is that we are actually drawn to people who are real and down-to-earth. We love authenticity, and we know that life is messy and imperfect.”
~ Brene Brown
Ego and Authenticity
One of my major failings in life is ego.
I’ve always secretly (or not so secretly) wanted people to know me and be impacted by my work.
I want to move people. I want to help people. I want people to want to hear what I have to say.
At least I did.
At the beginning of my journey as a writer. I wanted so badly for people to notice me. Sitting here today, it kinda makes me sick to think about how badly being “Popular” online meant to me.
I followed those I perceived as popular or famous online and emulated their work. I learned everything possible about what they did and how they did it.
No one visited my website. No one asked me for interviews. No one invited me to speak at their event.
I was a speck of dust in the Internet Universe, undeserving of mention.
I was writing in a voice that wasn’t my own, and you could smell how inauthentic my work was… like garbage day.
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Find Your Cadence
NOTICE: Here’s how I solved my authenticity problem. This was my solution. It may or may not work for you.
Fed up with what I was creating, I reread my articles one by one. For some reason, I began reading them out loud.
I immediately knew what was wrong.
Inside us all is a natural cadence.
A drumbeat that taps along as we create.
Mine is mine. Yours is yours. Everyone has their unique cadence.
Authenticity happens when you find your rhythm, drumbeat, and cadence. You could be saying the same shit that everyone else says, but if you believe it if you say it the way you say things, in your cadence…
…that’s all your audience wants.
Find your cadence.
It helps to read your writing out loud. Does it sound like you? Do you hear yourself in words the way you’ve written them?
No. Delete and start again.
Do this until your writing, read out loud, sounds just you… and BOOM!
You’re authentic, my friend.
Your writing still might suck.
Mine still did.
But my audience started to look past the crappy writing and deeper into what I was trying to say.
For now, that’s all we can ask for.
…and soon you’ll find you don’t HATE the word authentic anymore.
Yours in insurance,