According to the Robert dictionary, being authentic means “expressing a deep truth about oneself and not superficial habits, conventions”.
Authenticity is the result of a journey that we have undertaken to go deep within ourselves to find out who we are. It is the external projection of an intimate quest that can take decades. It is the purest expression of our being, free of the facade identities, of the images that we stick on our face like vulgar labels that serve us as a shield to better protect ourselves from others. Authenticity implies courage, the courage to draw from one’s own source, which may lead us to discover something that goes against convention. It is safer and more comfortable to accept the identities we are offered, they are reassuring and ready to use. It is much harder to carry out the project of digging deep inside, because finding the gold that lies within can be laborious.
To go towards authenticity, we must reject all the labels that could be stuck in our face. We must refuse to accept easily accessible identities as our own. Security and authenticity are two values that are incompatible at the beginning of our search. At the beginning, we cannot have security if we want to extract the jewels from our source. On the other hand, the more we advance in our search for ourselves, the more our authenticity protects us, since it strengthens us. The deepening of self-knowledge is necessarily accompanied by greater confidence and moral strength. On the contrary, those who live in facade identities are very susceptible because they live in fear of being unmasked.
To be authentic, we must accept vulnerability, because it is what allows us to keep searching. Someone living with armor would need to take it off if they wanted to know who the person in the mirror is.
The fact that we have not undertaken a search for ourselves condemns us either to live in ignorance or in hypocrisy. Hypocrisy comes from knowing deep down that we are playing a game, obeying conventions but not having the courage to act on them.
Courage is another facet of authenticity, they influence each other. One cannot be courageous without being authentic. Courage involves sincerity, concern for truth, the ability to question oneself, and a willingness to take on challenges despite the initial fear one may feel. All of these qualities are conducive to developing our authenticity. So the most direct way to increase our authenticity is to be courageous in doing things that impress us, to overcome our fear, to live with vulnerability as a companion, in a form of purity. It is to make our hearts the instrument of our ethical conduct and to stop taking refuge in excuses that avoid the unknown.
For all these reasons, it is difficult to be authentic today, everything pushes us to adopt the costume of our fellow human beings without questioning.