WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE AUTHENTIC?

This topic has been on my mind a lot lately: what does it mean to be authentic? By definition authentic is synonymous with genuine. Spending a little more thought on the subject, I realized that authenticity is relative. Some might say that the most authentic people present themselves in the same manner to everyone around them, no matter who that person is. But I don’t buy that. Can you behave differently around your boss and your best friend and still be authentic? Yes. Of course.

The thing is sometimes this line between being genuine and fake starts to get a little bit blurry. I’m thinking particularly of with social media. Recently, through a controversial video to the world, a “social media star” has announced she is quitting social media, due to the damage it has done to her as a person. She claims that all of the things she did to present herself as this perfect, happy girl who has it all, made her feel lonely, depressed, and more insecure than ever. Her opposers argue that it wasn’t merely social media that caused her to have these feelings, but rather, her own insecurities were exacerbated by her social media fame (among other critiques of her, such as the fact that she is begging for money in the end, but that’s a whole different story). 
What I want to focus on is this idea of social media and identity tied together. You see, looking at both sides, it seems that the issue isn’t only social media nor her insecurities. The real issue is with society. Social media is a platform for sharing. And everyone has insecurities. But she makes some interesting points, nonetheless, about how we perceive people through social media, and they really stuck with me. 
Recently, one of my good friends has drawn back on social media, only following people she is close with. When you are only following the people you really know, you know what you see is what you get. While when you’re following these strangers or social media phenomena, their real lives could be totally different than the ones they have constructed on these online platforms (such as the girl in this video). I have read dozens of posts from bloggers about their own insecurities and anxieties. Many envy other bloggers, and feel that they are little in comparison (judging by numbers, of course). 
But it isn’t just bloggers. We all do it. Every one of us that engages in these online behaviors knows that one person who seems to have “the life.” This connection posts pictures from lavish vacations and selfies that convey they obviously don’t have any flaws. So, what’s behind those pictures? Did they post on Instagram a picture of the divorce papers they just filed? Or the D they received on their last midterm? Probably not. 
We tend not to flaunt our failures or setbacks to the world, but in not doing this we are not truly representing ourselves. The people in the closest to me might know these details about me, but the people I am connected with on social media will only see my “best self.” Yes, sometimes I share my fears and anxieties through my blog, but I don’t always put them out there. And most people don’t have blogs.
So what am I really getting at? If you take anything away with this: life isn’t about likes.

It isn’t about how many followers you have, or how many connections you have on Facebook. Focus on presenting your authentic self to whoever you meet. Don’t seek validation by numbers. You are such a beautiful, wonderful person, and no amount of likes can represent your value on this Earth. Next time you are crafting that clever Instagram caption, after carefully editing it, think: are you putting this out there because you want to share the moment with your friends or are you doing it for the likes?