# 39 on my, 99 Life Tips – A List is: Surround yourself with people with whom you can be authentic and still be accepted and loved.
What does it mean to be authentic?
Personal authenticity means living with genuine moral, psychological, and emotional integrity. It recognizes and maintains value-based boundaries. Authentic persons are ”comfortable in their own skin”, and allow for and encourage the same in others.
While being authentic does not automatically mean being an uninhibited exhibitionist, this lifestyle includes the idea that the self-censorship slider is set to ”off” as much as possible. The more you feel the need to self-censor, the less authentic you are, as a rule.
You can be authentic and still act appropriately
While the above is true, there are certainly appropriate times to self-censor and tone it down. My girlfriend, who is the kindest person I know, suffers from what I call ”Traffic Tourette’s”. Sometimes, when I’m on the phone with her during her afternoon commute home, I will get an earful of blue-laced, red-hot authenticity when a driver cuts her off in traffic. This language, though authentic, would not be appropriate when sitting with family at her mother’s Thanksgiving table. Nor is it the kind of language she uses in normal conversation, even in private with me, or among friends.
Being authentic means no play-acting for approval, but is not a license for bad character
But being authentic means you don’t modify your personality to ”play a role” to suit someone else. Certainly not for any length of time. Play acting of this type is extremely common, especially in the modern era of social media, dating apps, and other tools that are little more than personal marketing aids. These tend to present people at the most surface level, and the lowest common denominator. They can cause inauthentic behaviors just to attract attention. And once you’ve attracted someone while not being true to yourself, there is a danger of perpetrating the same inauthenticity for the entirety of the “relationship”.
This comes from the fear of being rejected. This can cause you to change who you are at your core to satisfy their preferences or demands. But doing this means your authentic self gets rejected in favor of a pretend self that cannot be sustained indefinitely.
The flip side of morphing into a different persona, is that some people may use the claim of authenticity to justify being jerks. My admonition to surround yourself with people with whom you can be authentic does not mean you have license to be either rude, hateful, or indiscreet in more public social settings. The mature person recognizes that a facet of genuineness is the ability to moderate behavior and language to appropriate levels.
Be where you feel no need to pretend
If either tendency poses a struggle, here is a good article from Psychology Today that offers some steps and strategies for developing authenticity. There are some good practical steps that can be a help to anyone.
It is important to recognize, value, and seek out those relationships which require the least restraint from the full expression of your honest self. The ones where you don’t feel the need to pretend. In my experience, those relationships will be with people who genuinely have your best interests at heart. Oftentimes, these are the people who have witnessed and experienced the full spectrum of YOU. They’ve known you at your best…and at your worst. If they are still there beside you after the latter, you’re with a true friend.
The difference between acceptance and love
The last thing to mention is to note the difference between acceptance and love. You will want to be around people who accept YOU, because they love you. This does not mean they will accept all of your behavior at all times. This is an important distinction. I can love someone and not like their actions. I can love someone and even reject their actions or words as unacceptable. But, if I love them, I believe in the best version of them. Therefore, I’m willing to be there for them through their not-so-stellar periods, provided they express appropriate remorse and willingness to reach for the best, too. And it’s people like that you want to do life with.