A guide to finding and embracing the real you

Have you ever come across the words “be yourself; everyone else is already taken”? Did they cause some pause for thought? If yes, you are not alone. Growing up, many of us begin to wonder who we really are and how to best shape our lives. Spoiler alert: it is far from an easy journey but worth every step.

Your unique blueprint

We are born unique, even when we greet the world as identical twins. Moreover, we are each born with, and then “cultivate,” our own unique microbiome.

Yes, there is the combination of cells and genes that is you and that influences your physical and mental health, the psychological traits you display, the way you handle stress, or even how social you are. In other words, deep down you cannot be anyone else even if you tried. Your inner world that includes thoughts, feelings, and yes, bacteria too (your body’s microbiota) is making sure of that.

Authenticity 101

You may know someone who you consider to be living authentically. They are likely to be referred to as grounded, in control of their emotions and life trajectory. Nonjudgmental but able to speak their mind. Tall order? Let’s unpack.

“Living authentically is not a destination but a journey,” says Catherine Cloutier, registered clinical counsellor. “A process of becoming more comfortable with emotions,” she explains, “so we can express ourselves in alignment with our values and beliefs.”


Living authentically in most areas of our lives is the more reachable goal. “Be authentic wherever you have choices, such as parenting, relationships, or consuming habits,” says Cloutier, “knowing that it’s not perfection you should strive for.”

Be inspired … within reason

Living authentically before the age of internet had its hurdles, yet the emergence of social media has increased the challenge.

Children compare themselves to their peers or influencers, but so do grown-ups. “Strive to know yourself and be consistent with your values and ethical principles, in personal or work relationships,” says Cloutier.

Living authentically means doing your best in any given situation, Cloutier says, because our lives are context-dependent. You can change some things but not others, so find a source of inspiration that will help you develop a positive, self-assured mindset, rather than comparing yourself to others.

Know the difference

“We are less stressed when we are congruent,” says Cloutier, such as when the way you live aligns with your values.

Allow yourself time and space to explore beliefs, advises Cloutier, and when possible, surround yourself with people who can help you reassess perspective.

Set your intentions, but keep an open mind because there may be hurdles along the way. For that reason, make sure to include self-compassion in your toolkit. Mostly, trust your gut instinct. Your second brain resides there, and within it, the one voice to heed: yours.

By Daniela Ginta, MSc