Living Your Truth in 2020 (And Beyond)
From insightful Insta captions to dramatic declarations on YouTube: ‘are you living your truth?’ has become a centre stage question.
Most living-your-truth revelations are prepared monologues about how the life we portray online isn’t the life we actually lead. In other words: they tell us that what you see isn’t the truth. Or, at least, it isn’t the whole truth. Behind every smiling selfie there’s a woman crying about climate change, corn dogs and all the other upsetting things we have to deal with on a daily basis. While that woman might be specifically me – corn dogs do upset me – the idea of presenting the truth (‘not everything is perfect’) in a lying environment (‘look at us being perfect’) still shocks.
Living a lie
This shock is replaced by #relatable once we realise that we’re not a 1080×1080 square, we are human. As human beings we feel and think and act, and sometimes those things don’t correspond with one another. Our online personas often misses nuance because nuance is hard to capture in 280 words. What you see is a conscious selection, but not a selection that represents our entire being. We would be truly shocked if our Pinterest boards replaced our lives. Sure, you’ll finally have that aesthetically pleasing bathroom, but when will you use it? I mean, none of my favourite content creators – according to their content – pee. So? #askingtherealquestions #relatable However, the idea of living your truth goes further than realising that there’s more to us than what’s on our feed.
Our daily comings and goings, like our online branding, shows but a sliver of our ‘true’ selves. As Rebecca McKown notes in a Huffpost article: “Most of us spend our days living up to expectations and definitions. In this way you, me, all of us are living to be someone different than who we truly are. This is a lie. It is time to live your truth and own it.” Although I personally think that self-censoring isn’t per definition ‘living a lie’, I agree with McKown that we don’t always feel, think and act authentically. We get caught up wearing things we don’t actually want to wear, saying things we don’t actually want to say, doing things we don’t actually want to do, just because they’re expected of us. We don’t own our own lives, we only live it.
Finding your truth
But you do own your own life! Or, at least, you have some influence on the matter. You shouldn’t endure autopilot wondering when your ‘true’ life begins (or ends). Instead, as the living-your-truth movement preaches, you should strive to live everyday to your best ability. This translates to being honest with what you want. Do you really want to wear those trousers or are you just following a trend? Do you really want to gossip or are you just saying what you think others want to hear? Do you really want to go to that party or are you just afraid to miss out on something? Simple questions like these can change a life swept away by mindless action. Bonus points: you don’t have to have it all figured out to implement them!
One of my biggest issues with self-help advice is that the first step does all the work: step 1) figure everything out, step 2) use that knowledge. And while – to live your truth – the big question of ‘who do you think you are?’ gets asked, I feel you can dodge the existential bullet by grounding yourself in your current situation. Instead of concentrating on becoming this non-existing ‘I’ve figured it all out’ being, figure out how you can add some magic to this very moment. In a world where truth has become a slippery term, taking small steps and carefully assessing your next move is ‘more of the times’ than anxiously holding tight to a Trojan horse. Unfortunately you still have to make decisions, but these are decisions that you make. Or try to make. Or want to make. Just make a d*mn decision!
Most of us don’t openly live our truth because we’re scared to do so. More specifically, we’re scared of others and what they might think, say or do. While I agree with this random article that states: “The wall you’ve built doesn’t keep people from hurting you. It keeps you from living life”; I also feel the need to point out that you are the only one who can make that judgement. Living your truth isn’t simply being ‘unapologetically you’. Again, every situation asks for new questions and, perhaps, different answers. Following Deleuzian thought (don’t worry, I’m not here to bore you with a French philosophy class), we all are in a constant state of becoming. Meaning: we’ll never be a final product because our ‘being’ changes and adapts to the environment.
We’re not necessarily ‘truthful’ when we dare to speak our minds in a safe space; we’re not necessarily ‘lying’ when we keep our thoughts to ourselves in a hostile environment. As mentioned above, I think self-censoring isn’t per definition ‘living a lie’. And building walls isn’t per definition stopping you from living your ‘true’ life. There’s not one truth and not one you. Our body literally, physically, reacts to the spaces we enter and exit – whether it’s hot, cold or smells a bit funny. So why do we have to stay in one room when it comes to our sense of ‘true self’? If a room smells funny, you’re not obliged to inhale as deep as you can!
The truth is…
‘Living your truth’ is a reminder that you shouldn’t confine yourself to outside expectations and definitions. While it’s scary to (try to) take control of your current situation, questioning your ‘true’ motivation can persuade mindless actions from thoughtless decisions. So let this year be the year you wear what you actually want to wear, say what you actually want to say and do the things you actually want to do. But also do the exact opposite if the answer to your question changes. Living your truth does not mean living in the shadow of one truth, but in figuring things out as we move through time and space.
How are you living your truth this year? Share your true self practices in the comments!