Manilka Ediriweera explains why authenticity is a valued characteristic

‘Be authentic!’ Take a moment to recall how often you’ve heard this being said to you or someone you know. More times than you can count on your hands, right?

It seems authenticity has become the buzzword of all buzzwords. Today, organisations, brands and people keep being told to be authentic. At job interviews, one of the first traits looked for is authenticity or individuality. And the first thing people notice about a brand is the same value.

But if you think about it, isn’t it problematic that we are constantly being told or reminded to be authentic when it is something that should be inherent in us? There are millions of books, workshops, articles and what have you on how to be your authentic self – a simple Google search will take you to all the material that’s out there on the internet!

This is problematic because of the importance given to one’s online presence today, due to the popularity of social media. This has resulted in many trying to portray a perfect version of themselves and be who they aren’t. Those people are simply putting up a front and living in a filtered world where they lie by omission.

Whether we are posting pictures on social media or creating a TikTok video, most of us are wired to do what we think others want to see or hear… because we seek constant validation for being the best version of ourselves. But sadly, that best version is not the real you.

At the same time, it’s not as if we don’t hate fakery and want people to be their true selves. So why do we crave authenticity from others and yet, be unwilling to reciprocate that quality in ourselves?

It could be because the perception we have about being genuine is incorrect or as a result of the challenges and risks that being authentic pose.

Authenticity doesn’t require a 180 degree change in one’s life. It’s about making purposeful decisions regarding which qualities you want to retain in life and what needs to change. To be an authentic person, you need to be genuine and honest in your actions – because authenticity is connected to an individual’s actions, values and desires.

It may seem complicated and challenging, and you may feel that those around you don’t like your true self or that you may have difficulty fitting in. But isn’t it even more challenging to constantly try to be who you aren’t? What kind of a life would it be if you spent your entire existence attempting to be someone you are not?

So to be unapologetically you, what needs to be done is to acknowledge, understand and accept the fears you might have. Know that they are always valid. You may be anxious that you will have to lose or give up certain relationships if you take the path towards being your true self.

But remember that you will attract like-minded people along the way and form sincere, sustainable relationships. And those who genuinely like you and value your friendship will celebrate with you.

People will always connect with the real person. We generally have a tough time relating to being perfect despite putting on a show of perfection for social media. That’s because people identify more with one another when they get to know the real person and the true story.

So being authentic and unapologetically yourself may come at a cost. But it’s a price worth paying because it can lead you further in life than you could imagine.

For instance, embracing authenticity could mean accepting your emotional or introverted side. Those innate qualities you have can help to foster meaningful and sustainable relationships, or be more attentive and focussed on what you do. And eventually, it will allow your career and life to flourish.

The same thing applies in the business world as well. Authenticity has become a fundamental way through which businesses can engage and spark the interest of their customers.

That’s why creating authentic content that makes one’s quirky personality stand out has become a crucial superpower, which brands need to master. It will help draw the right people to your business, develop their trust, foster long-lasting relationships and give them a reason to stick around. Let your authenticity shine through so that you can be recognised and remembered.

The magic lies in being confident about who you are. And for that, you must embrace your strengths, and know what makes you unique and memorable. Then you need to feel convinced enough to portray that to the world – because there is power in knowing who you are.

When you are truly yourself, you become a force to be reckoned with. You are unstoppable and unbreakable; and free of the mental, physical and emotional clutter you carried around earlier.

Authenticity is definitely your superpower. Go and find it to reveal that best version of you.