If someone were to ask you what life is, how do you think you would respond? For most people, it’s work, motivated by the pressure to earn a living. It’s keeping up with the rent or the mortgage, paying the bills.

We are in a time when questions are being asked. We have life coaches. People are talking about spiritual wellness, the Law of Attraction, connecting with one’s inner self. For most people, who are just trying to get by, surrounded by the pressures of day-to-day living and so many demands on their time, these topics might not seem relevant to anything. They sound intangible. What place could they have in a world that cares so much about physical reality, whether you have a good job, and are ticking all the boxes expected for your age and situation? The answer is that society may not care. Society seems to demand a lot from us. It demands conformity, and we seem to be expected to follow a path that has been laid at our feet and everyone else’s.

It’s easy to get caught up in life and feel like such abstract questions just don’t relate to us. But with all our running and efforts to keep up, do we ever take the time to ask ourselves whether the life we are living is the one we really want? Where does who we are, as individuals with likes, dislikes, wants, passions and desires, fit into all of this?

The truth is that we may or may not relate to these seemingly obscure concepts, but there is one thing that most people have experienced, and often experience on an ongoing basis, doing their best to avoid it, deny it or outrun it: inner conflict. It’s that feeling, that knowing, that what you’re doing or the person you are portraying does not really match with the person you know you are. Being ourselves seems like a luxury when we are faced with the real world. We often are willing to distance ourselves from the part of us that knows who we really are and accept unhappiness and dread at the thought of playing a role for yet another day, just to save face.

Why is that? And what is so important about that deeper part of ourselves?

What we are sacrificing is our authenticity. Most of us have dreams, visions of what we would spend our time doing if we felt we had the choice. Others are still unsure, but they can certainly feel it when it isn’t right. It’s that feeling of not quite wanting to be where you are, a lack of excitement at the prospect of starting the day. It’s wearing something and feeling not quite comfortable in your own skin, but knowing it’s considered acceptable and appropriate for the occasion.

It is easy to look outside of ourselves for answers. We see how other people are working and living and we assume that it’s the only way. We know that we have choices. We can choose the degree and the industry, but after that we must filter into a system that is waiting for us to join it. What we fail to ask is why.

We have a choice in what we strive for, but when it comes down to it, we are all striving for happiness. Security and acceptance from the majority are not always the ticket to its attainment, because there is no one prescription for it. We are all unique, and happiness is unique to every person. The concept of aligning with who we really are might sound vague, but aligning with what we want is not. Most of us know what we want. It’s fear that holds us back from its pursuit.

If we can find a way to let go of that fear and feel what it is to allow ourselves to be honest about what we want to make of our lives, we have found the key to our fulfilment. This is authenticity.

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