Social media discourages authenticity and emphasizes light-hearted posts and happy faces. Try to break the mold and you’ll feel the backlash: trolling comments, finger-wagging, and even worse, silence.
Have you ever written a really heartfelt status update that left you feeling vulnerable and exposed, only to have it go largely unnoticed by your friends? Chances are that it probably left you feeling invisible, shunned, and like you should never have bothered.
Before you give in to eternal discouragement, here’s a secret: keep doing you.
Today’s world is so full of superficiality and denial that any ounce of truth and authenticity, however small and seemingly trivial, is the much-needed antidote that we so desperately need.
When you keep it real, you demonstrate to yourself and others that life isn’t all about cute selfies, food/baby/animal pics, going to parties and concerts, catching up on celebrity gossip, and being social-media-popular.
Sometimes life hurts. Sometimes it gets harder than we can say. Sometimes we feel detached, isolated, and unheard.
Perhaps the status quo has convinced you that you’re the only one who feels these things and that you’re a freak for being the way that you are, but the truth is that everyone feels this way. You wouldn’t know it from your friends’ status updates, but inside, you’re not as different as appearances would suggest.
We all want to be loved. We all want the approval and validation of our peers. We all feel lonely and overwhelmed from time to time.
The culture of superficiality discourages us from getting in tune with these deeper feelings. Why ponder your painful and uncomfortable thoughts and feelings when you can distract yourself with cute cat videos, fail compilations, and funny listicles?
Yet the key to a more fulfilling and authentic life is to be radically honest with yourself about your true thoughts and feelings. If you allow social norms to dictate what you can and cannot express, how can you ever hope to liberate yourself from the aspects of your life that are holding you down? If you don’t communicate openly and honestly with the people in your life, how can you ever hope to foster genuine relationships and true intimacy?
You don’t have to wait for anyone to give you permission to be fully you. You are a free and powerful being, and you can do whatever you want whenever you damn well feel like it. In fact, in doing so you might be signaling to others that they are free to do the same.
On the surface it might seem like this reminder to keep it real is just about being more authentic in the public sphere, but the implications go far deeper.
When you begin to admit to yourself when you’re feeling less-than-chipper, you also give yourself permission to start pondering why.
When you’re really killing it with radical self-honesty, you’ll start noticing when you’re not putting your best self forward.
Are you being unkind to yourself and others? When you’re having a bad day, do you become the reason that others have a bad day? Are you engaging in behaviors that are subtlely self-sabotaging?
These are some pretty heavy questions for anyone to address. Don’t worry—you don’t have to get all the answers right now. But you can do a lot to help make the world a better place when you explore the different aspects of yourself and start making the changes necessary to be a better person.
By being honest with yourself, you give yourself the opportunity to love and accept those parts of yourself that you previously rejected. When you love and accept yourself, you begin to bring that same love and understanding to others. And when you love and accept others as they are, you give them permission to love and accept themselves and others.
So many of the world’s issues gain power purely from the fact that we humans have a tendency to avoid dealing with things that scare and hurt us. If we can’t be honest with our closest friends about how we’re really feeling, how can we possibly hope to confront the harder issues like climate change, famine, and poverty?
It seems like a leap, but every great distance is covered with smaller steps. When you can admit your feelings to yourself, it’s easier to communicate them to others. When you can deal with your own issues, confronting pain and fear comes more easily. And when you can confront pain and fear, you equip yourself to deal with the pain and suffering of others.
This is why the great masters say that if you want to help heal the world, begin with healing yourself.
So, as you go about your daily life, keep this small reminder in mind: keep it real with yourself and others. You’d be surprised at what a difference a little bit of honesty can make.
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She graduated from the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs in 2012 with a Bachelor of Arts in English with a Creative Writing minor. She currently resides on Planet Earth, and therefore has a vested interest in the goings-on and goings-to-be around the place.
She's also really friendly, so feel free to drop a line: Jacquelyn@radicallyenlightened.com.
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