Do you ever stop to think about how many hats you wear on any given day? Are there some hats you really don’t like to wear, but feel you have to for one reason or another? Is there a hat you would like to wear more often, or wear all day long if you could?
Of course I’m not talking about fashion accessories here; I’m talking about the slight adjustments in personality and the alterations in behaviour we adopt to deal with specific people or situations in our daily lives.
You don’t wear the same hat when interacting with your kids, as you do when dealing with your boss, just as you don’t wear the same hat when meeting with your bank manager, as you do when meeting your friends for a night out.
Fair enough, they’re kind of a given, you couldn’t go and meet your bank manager with your ‘parent’ hat on, you’d end up putting them on the naughty step for being conceited, and that wouldn’t get you that loan you were after.
Wearing different hats can become a juggling act, ensuring you’re wearing the right hat at the right time for the right situation or person for me feels exhausting. But it’s something we seem to do automatically without too much thought, for fear of not being liked, or to conform to our surroundings.
When I notice I’ve donned a hat for a specific situation or person, I feel unauthentic; it doesn’t feel natural and makes me feel like I’m being false.
When interacting with, and observing other people, I admire those who can sustain an even state of personality, regardless of who they’re speaking to or dealing with. To me this indicates a personality which feels much more authentic and one I find much easier to relate to.
One more hat in the trash
This is also a personality trait which I aspire to and hope I achieve this authenticity as much as possible. There are certain ‘hats’ I no longer have to endure wearing, like the dutiful employee hat, that hat went in the trash a long time ago!
I’ve never been the subservient type, and having to act in a way which went against my own belief system with ‘superiors’ I didn’t respect, just for the sake of a manufactured hierarchical employment system, not only stuck in my throat, it made me feel completely unauthentic.
Constantly thinking about personality adjustment when meeting or dealing with different people or situations is needlessly wasting energy. As I said before I try not to allow this to occur, but I still occasionally notice myself adopting a specific hat.
I hope I’m self aware enough to notice when this happens, and mostly I’m able to counteract it by ‘untweaking’ the adjustments in personality as they happen. This may seem like expending more energy, but the more I achieve this the less it happens, and the more authentic I feel overall.
Being authentic basically boils down to acting with integrity and honesty and not creating false appearances. Or more simply, not putting on an act, which others have immense intuitiveness to notice anyway.
I can perceive when someone isn’t acting authentically and this flags up warning signs for me. This obviously doesn’t always mean someone is being dishonest or doesn’t have integrity, it could just mean they are not confident in a specific situation which makes them feel they have to don a ‘hat’ and act in a certain way.
There could be many reasons for a person not acting authentically, so although I sometimes perceive a warning sign, I also don’t automatically assume the person is being intentionally unauthentic.
Quest for true authenticity
In my quest for true authenticity I have also had times where by my actions or words have been looked upon by friends and family as being inappropriate.
For example, I often utilise the occasional swear word in everyday conversation which is how I, and many others, naturally communicate when in the company of people we feel comfortable with. So I also use this method of communication when I meet new people, which is sometimes seen as inappropriate by others, but for me this is me acting authentically.
As I see it, as long as I’m not rude or offensive, I feel I am being true to myself, and authentic.
Acting and being authentic is much more important to me than putting on a false appearance for fear of seeming inappropriate. Long gone are the days of worrying about what people think about me, if people like me, great, if people don’t like me, that’s okay too.
So which hats do you wear, if any, and which ones would you rather not wear? I’d love to hear from you and read your experiences of being authentic.