The First Step to Living Authentically

When you’re like me, and you’ve made a lot of your life choices based on what you think other people’s expectations are for you, waking up to the idea of living authentically seems revolutionary. It feels like permission to actually do what you want to do, to make choices based off what resonates with your soul. 

If you’re also like me, though, you very quickly realize you have no idea what you actually want to do.

This time last year, I found myself on the fast track to a promising business career, severely over-committed (but gosh darn it would it make for an impressive resume), and totally unfulfilled. Any free time I had, I spent laying on the couch watching Netflix, because I felt like a shell of a person, drained by everything else I had going on with no idea what to do with my “free” time. 

I remember being asked what hobbies I had and staring blankly with no acceptable answer. (Hint: Netflix shouldn’t be a hobby)

The following summer I did an internship, where I sat in a cubicle for eight hours a day making phone calls. I have never been more miserable in my entire life. The concept of working to sell something in order to essentially make money for someone else higher up did not resonate with me at all. But, this was the life I was setting myself up for. It was time for a change.

I realized I wanted to finally follow my heart. But I had a problem: I had no idea what my heart was telling me.

Living authentically seems easy enough. Be true to yourself. But our authentic self becomes muted into silence as we try to shove and force it to fit a mold of cultural expectations. I thought I could have the best of both worlds. I picked something I felt passionate about (agriculture and sustainability) and tried to fit it into a mold of “success” as determined by culture expectations. 

But it doesn’t work that way. 

A few weeks ago I sat down and tried to make a list of my values, of what in life is important to me, and of what I want to get out of life. And I discovered I had no idea. I’ve made some pretty radical 180-degree changes, so clearly something in me knows what it wants, or at least is guiding me away from what I don’t want, but I’d lost any sense of what that was or how to listen to it.

I spent time journaling and thinking about it, reading through lists of values and came up with some that really resonated with me. A working list of those values is now written on a sticky note, stuck to my bathroom mirror. For now, when I make choices, or I’m trying to figure out if something resonates with me I think back to that list.

But, I also know, living authentically isn’t static. I’m never going to find the perfect five values that will guide my life from now on. The same way I can’t pick the perfect mold of success right now and expect my life to follow that path perfectly.

Living authentically is about being aware.

I’m way more aware now than I was a year ago, but the goal is to be a little more aware than I was even yesterday. Striving to be in tune with what fulfills you is the first step in living an authentic life. It’s being in a constant state of awareness of how you fit into the world and what resonates with you.

How authentic of a life are you living? Can you identify, right now, what values are important to you?

  1. Jess

    April 17, 2017 at 11:36 pm

    This is definitely something I’m trying to do more and more everyday but find myself struggling with! Although, I do ask myself ‘why am I doing this?’ And if the answer isn’t for me or because I want to or I want to help others and it’s because of someone else and it makes me miserable, I try and see if I can sort something else out.

    Jess x

    1. smstartz

      April 18, 2017 at 1:22 am

      I think just the realization that I could ask myself ‘why am I doing this?’ made the biggest impact so far for me! Good luck, lovely!

  2. Kezia

    April 18, 2017 at 6:47 am

    Hey! I love this post and the overall theme of your blog! I enjoyed reading your post, especially because it hit home personally. I am now starting a business that allows me to help others discover their passion + purpose and create a plan of action that allows them to successfully pursue their goals and live their dream! The discovery part is huge.. and often where most get stuck. Thanks for sharing!

    1. smstartz

      April 18, 2017 at 6:25 pm

      Thank you so much! I’m so excited to hear about your new project, getting to help others fulfill their goals sounds so fulfilling! Good luck 🙂

  3. John Mulindi

    April 18, 2017 at 8:45 am

    Trying to find your inner self, why you are in this world is very important thing, you can ever do in this world. Every day I try to find ways I can impart this world in a positive way.

    1. smstartz

      April 18, 2017 at 6:26 pm

      I love the Buddhist philosophy that finding inner peace is the first step to creating peace in the word so I try to just make myself a little bit better every day and hope that it creates a ripple effect to improve the world.

  4. Joline

    April 18, 2017 at 4:02 pm

    Knowing yourself and your purpose…that’s the hardest thing. And no, I have no idea or clarity at this point. Though I try to be more mindful, hopefully my life is unfolding as it should!

    1. smstartz

      April 18, 2017 at 6:23 pm

      You just gotta trust the process!

  5. Natalie

    April 19, 2017 at 7:04 pm

    Living authentically is such a beautiful thing, but you’re right. It’s a process! Thank you for writing this post 🙂

  6. Jack + Jenny

    April 19, 2017 at 9:05 pm

    It’s important to be yourself, but like you said, it’s hard to know who you ARE. I’m glad you’ve taken the time to find out. Good luck on your continued journey to YOU!

  7. Cristy

    April 19, 2017 at 9:11 pm

    *Such a great article! It is crazy how sometimes you don’t even know what you want.

  8. James Beamer

    April 19, 2017 at 9:24 pm

    I agree, being aware is a big part of this. Thanks for the article.

  9. Dominique | Perchance to Cook

    April 19, 2017 at 9:36 pm

    Omg I can so relate to this! Wanting to figure out what is important to you but sometimes not even knowing. I heard some good advice that I found useful… to write down things that make you happy throughout your day and things that make you angry… and through both, you can figure out your passion.

  10. Sarah

    April 19, 2017 at 10:48 pm

    This is so important. I feel like as the older I get I understand myself more and more. It’s definitely a process, but one that needs to be done!

  11. ShootingStarsMag

    April 20, 2017 at 12:33 am

    Thanks for sharing! Living an authentic life isn’t always the easiest thing to do. You have to check in with yourself and be more aware of what you do and don’t want in life.

  12. Delphine

    April 20, 2017 at 3:19 am

    It is very easy to forget your true values when you are on the career treadmill. You just work for someone else’s values… I’m trying to find a new path right now so this is a very good direction, thank you.

  13. Kimberly

    April 20, 2017 at 3:32 am

    I believe this is something that’s very important and comes easily to some and not as easily to others. I’m in the first camp. I can’t help but be myself. What I love most is to create and ever since I was a small child, I’ve found ways of doing it and I’ve continued doing it until I turned it into a career for myself. Now I’m molding it into making it a business of my own to allow me to explore even more ways to create. Living authentically is liberating! Good luck in your search, it’s worth it!

  14. Amanda | Maple Alps

    April 20, 2017 at 11:15 am

    I love this! I strive to live an intentional, authentic life. You are right about it is all about being aware – that’s where it starts!

  15. Sia

    April 20, 2017 at 9:12 pm

    I think the main reason I stared an blog and am trying to be my own boss is because I don’t want to lose my authentic, ethics and core values. It’s nice to have these reminders once in a while.

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