1. If society had a mantra, it would be: “Be yourself… No, not like that!” We encourage people to be their authentic selves, and at the same time, we are even more adamant about people adhering to the appropriate social code of the moment. So, you can be yourself, as long as that person is aligned with our singular idea of what “authenticity” looks like.
2. People only like authenticity when it’s comforting, not when it makes them question their own choices and ideals. People are only supportive when someone’s life choices support or validate their own. When our main mode of gauging our acceptability is evaluating other people’s lives by upward or downward comparisons to our own, it’s hard to see their actions independent of what they “mean” to us.
3. “Following your own path” is terrifying – because it’s unknown. Following someone else’s road at least lets you know where you’re going. The reason most people take the road most travelled is because forging your way through the uncharted terrain is f*#king terrifying. (How ironic, that when you’re truly “on path” you usually feel most lost, or most uncertain.)
4. We think that being genuine is being radically happy, because you’re just “doing what you want.” A lot of the time, however, being genuine brings up more problems than it does solutions. (At least, in the beginning.) Do you stay in the closet, or stay close to your family? Do you pursue a new career, or remain more financially stable? How do we navigate our way through the center? What matters more, at the end of the day?
5. Most people can’t see anything as valid unless they agree with it. So you can really only be genuine with some people, unless you want to offend and lose others in your life.
6. We’re a world of overthinkers, and when we’re not overthinking our own lives, we’re making judgments about other people’s. When we’re anxious about other people judging our lives, it’s because we subconsciously know that they, uh, are. It’s a matter of realizing this is true for everyone, and that they’ll judge whether we’re doing what we want or not.
7. It seems impossible to be honest about not wanting to hang out, or be friend with someone, or tell them that you think they should reconsider a choice, without mortally offending them. “Just be real with me!” is the ultimate commitment in modern friendship, though the opposite is usually true. It’s not normal to be able to contact people 24/7 – wanting space is not a statement against someone as a person. Having to be honest about why someone is making a terrible choice ultimately culminates in them thinking you don’t “support” them.
8. We think that we can only be friends with people who we agree with on everything. So if we want to change our lives, or our ideas, or ourselves, we have to do so with the knowledge that we may be exchanging our friends and their love and companionship.