“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder”- Greek quote. Common perception would have us believe that beauty is subjective, that one is only beautiful if they meet the expectations and criteria placed upon them by an outside source. As we grow and develop, as life buffets and molds and chips away at us, we tend to become two distinct selves, the Image and the Authentic.
The Image self is a mirror of all the expectations, beliefs, values, morals, and dreams that we perceive others within our environment wish to pin on us. Image is our own internal concept of beauty as defined by those around us. For our parent, we are the dutiful child. For our teacher, the apt pupil. For our child, the perfect parent. For our lover, the supportive and devoted partner. All of the expectations of those around us are mirrored on the face of the Image self.
The Authentic self is the essence of truth within ourselves. The acceptance that we are not perfect, that we embrace our flaws, that we are sometimes impatient, unkind, lazy, frustrated, and a host of other emotions and faults that do not conform to the definition of beauty. Authentic is our true nature, that which makes us unique and yes, imperfect in many ways. It is also pure truth. In the world in which we live, diversity may be lauded but it is rarely appreciated. Image, as seen on billboards and in magazines across the world, is held up as the pinnacle of success and is even encouraged as a noteworthy goal. Why else would plastic surgeons be making such big bucks? While I have nothing against plastic surgery, I do take issue against permanently changing your physical and your internal self to conform to society’s concept of beauty.
Authentic is preached but rarely shown. Your parent may have told you to speak your mind, but then admonished you to only say “nice” things. You might have been told in the work environment that your suggestions for improvement would be appreciated only to discover that boat rockers were in danger of losing their positions. Your lover might have asked you to be honest then punished you for telling them the truth.
Society prefers Image over Authentic, however, when the truth about Image is exposed, showing it for the lies that it truly is, the Image is quickly ostracized. A person who presents the world with their Image self often finds that they lose friends, lovers, opportunities, and even success when those around them discover that the Image is false. Those who present to the world their Authentic self find that they enjoy more loyalty, feel less stress, and enjoy more success in their personal and professional lives.
The Image self can only be maintained so long before cracks and chinks begin to appear and the lies begin to show. While the Authentic self may not always be popular, it is honest and those who see the Authentic self will accept that as being truth. Shakespeare said it best, “To thine own self be true.” Wouldn’t you rather have your relationships in love, at work, and in life be based upon who you really are inside instead of based on a foundation of lies and half-truths?
My mother was very fond of saying, ” I’m a frog. You have to love me warts and all.” Rejoice in your warts, don’t hide them. Your flaws give you character, substance, and levels of personality that can only shine forth when you are your Authentic self. Let your parent see your mistakes. For that matter, let your child see your imperfections as well. Give them the freedom to be their Authentic self. Your lover may not always want to here the truth but they will appreciate knowing that you are always honest with them. Your employer may not like that you are outspoken, but they will appreciate that you are a leader and can encourage others.
Lose the Image. No one wants to be in any type of relationship with someone they can’t say they honestly know. Let the world see your Authentic self. You might be pleasantly surprised by how many like what they see and find your authenticity to be truly beautiful.