Can you remember who you were before the world told you who you should be?
– Charles Bukowski
I spent the majority of my childhood upside down against walls practicing handstands and flipping off our revolting floral sofas (why did they even exist?). I sat in the splits watching Bianca and Ricky row in EastEnders and gave everyone who was ever childminding me, legit anxiety that I may fall off something and die. Dramatic much? no but for real, there was no stopping me, it was like I was supercharged all the time.
The tomboy thing, was also a real ‘thing.’ I still vividly remember screaming at the age of 3 whilst my mum put (or tried to anyway) a gold girly dress on me for my grandmas 70th birthday. The pain was real, I don’t think I have ever cried as much since. I just wanted to go in my Adidas trackies, nike t-shirt and brand new TN trainers. Obvs my mum won the battle that day, I ‘had’ to be girly like the rest of the girls in my family going to the party. Bear with me here as I tell you a little of my life story, it becomes relevant at the end, I promise. As I grew older, sport and the tomboy thing, remained a thing, in a girly kinda way. Right now, that makes total sense, ‘girly tom-boy’ is cool. Back then it was a little bit random. Anyway, without going on too much, somewhere things changed. Although the tomboy/sporty thing was in me, I became this super girly girl – I gave up sport, I switched my trackies for tight little skirts and became who I thought I should be. Who social media told me to be, what others were doing and what I thought would help me reach my dreams.
Comparison – imitation and a whole lot of ‘shoulds’.
‘Should’ is the word I was trying to get to here before I blurted my life out to you. In our heavily digital, perfectly pictured world, there is so much noise out there on how we ‘should be’, what success ‘should look like’, how we should behave. We are thrown 100s of pictures daily to compare ourselves to, we see others creating inspiring content that we want to imitate and we question our own brilliance, our own ability to create and in short – our own ‘self’. Confused? Yeah me too hun.
The question surrounding ‘authenticity’ in messages is a big old royal shit storm going on atm. Working in advertising and comms for the past 6 years and more recently, co- founding my own PR influence agency, I see it from every end: Brands are questioning the most authentic way to get their messages spread, audiences are questioning everything they see and worst of all we as individuals don’t know who the fu*ck we are anymore. Everyone is panicking, scrambling and becoming even more unauthentic in the process. Told you, total shit storm.
An audience perspective: Obvious sponsored posts, unobvious sponsored posts, ‘authenticity’ in transformation pictures, the calling out on photo shopping images, the awareness of what good lighting can do, the Me in 2014 VS. ME in 2017 and me at 7AM me at 7PM body image posts. Literally STRESSFUL AF.
A brands perspective: Who will create authentic content? Who will talk about my brand for money and then bitch about how gross it is behind my back? Should we make it obvious we paid the influencer to post or shall we try and make the message look unsponsored. What’s more authentic? Who knows what they are talking about? Who doesn’t? Again, STRESSFUL AF
The individual perspective: What is she doing, should I be doing that? That got lots of positive feedback, I am going to imitate that. Her pic was so cool, I want to do that. Who am i? What am I? STRESSFUL AF AF
Told ya, TOTAL SHIT STORM.
For me, the topic is so deeply messed up that there is a whole different message in all of this. My point is to not call out those who are being authentic, fake, or fakely authentic as I call it. My point is to not pass judgement on anyone’s message or posts and I don’t feel it is my place to say whether I think people are being genuine or not. My point is to bring it back to the point – authenticity.
The oxford dictionary defines authenticity as:
Of undisputed origin and not a copy; genuine.
We are all getting so caught up in whether a message is authentic or fake, and we are all fighting this battle to be original and come up with new exciting content and ways to communicate messages, myself included. But by chasing originality we are stepping away from our most genuine place. OUR OWN PLACE.
The only thing that truly reflects that definition is our own selves. Our own DNA and individual fingerprint. Where I am heading is, YOU are the only one of YOU in the world. As humans, we are as authentic, original and genuine as it gets. The originality you are chasing is actually right in front of you. It is you. Being authentic is scary, i hear you – it makes you vulnerable to being judged, being taken the piss out of and the worst, open to rejection. But when you find your own flow and stop trying to be who you should be, or what you should be or what others are doing – the game changes. You become loved for who you are (feels better) heard by people for being YOU (feels better). You feel better. We are drawn to people who are real, it is magnetic and kinda sexy. You will draw more people to you and hopefully feel a little more sexy too 😉
Going back to my tomboy chat earlier, I left that all behind to create content I thought I SHOULD. For so long, I was doing that box standard, typical fitness blogger white background-avo and eggs, jumping around in a sportsbra-tyring to be super girly life because I thought that’s what I should be doing. I was imitating the style of others, listening to what others were telling me to post, what others in my industry were posting and It felt so wrong. I couldn’t figure out for so long, why I wasn’t going where I wanted to, getting the jobs I wanted to or achieving my dreams like I dreamed them. I wasn’t being me. Tomboy, edgy, sporty, a little sassy with a hint of girly ME. I wasn’t enjoying my game, my content or my messages, my platform was confusing and I was like who the HELL AM I. My injury this summer forced me to spend time reading, learning more and doing a whole lot of self-study and take a look at what I loved and what I wanted to do with the incredible platform I had created. I spent so much time previously trying to come up with new ideas, creative content to change the game. The whole time, I didn’t realise, that all I needed to do was look at me. I was the game changer, I am different, I was my own authenticity.
Now don’t get me wrong, this isn’t the case for everyone – some are blissfully happily in their lives and who they are. However, if you are reading this, its likely that’s not you. Creatives, Entrepreneurs, business owners – you will know the struggle of the creative mindset. Inspiration is fine, use it to inspire and better your message, trust your own brilliance and remember who YOU are. Even if 3000000 people have the same message as you, post the same content, have the same business idea or model – THEY ARE NOT YOU. They will never do it in the way you will and never will. Do you get the point yet? I have said YOU about 100 times.
If you are feeling lost, ask yourself if you are being YOU.
What is it that makes you happy?
What story do you want to share with others?
What do you really want to achieve?
What do YOU enjoy doing?
What makes YOU feel good?
Who makes YOU feel good?
What you do you WANT TO LOOK LIKE?
YOU YOU YOU YOU . etc etc etc
Spend more time watching you, learning you instead of being sucked up by the comparison/imitation train. Trust your own brilliance, find your own flow. The rest will turn up to meet you right there hunny bee.