To be alive is the greatest fear humans have. Death is not the greatest fear we have; our biggest fear is taking the risk to be alive - the risk to be alive and express what we really are. Just being ourselves is the greatest fear of humans. We have learned to live our lives trying to satisfy other people's demands. We have learned to live by other people's points of view, because of the fear of not being accepted and of not being good enough for someone else.
The Four Agreements, Don Miguel Ruiz
Just being ourselves, standing by our dreams & beliefs and not trying to push ourselves into something we just aren't - unfortunately that's often not what we learn when we grow up.
Expectations from society and/or family can make us not pursue our own dreams, but force us to meet the expectations of others.
This may lead to us – aka an image that we have created that we are not – being supposedly liked. However, this does not lead us to real fulfillment or satisfaction.
I promise if you go out and talk to people about their dreams/things they regret, absolutely NO ONE will tell you that the person regrets staying true to themselves and trying their thing.
Even if it was a bad experience.
Being honest with yourself and saying "That's me and that's what I wanted to do, so I did it" - or not doing things either you don't want to do - is far more satisfying than what might be a less than good experience.
Much more often you will hear that someone regrets not trying to get out of their comfort zone.
Australian Bronnie Ware has worked with the terminally ill for years and has published the most common things people regret about their deathbed.
(Book recommendation → The Top Five Regrets of the Dying - Bronnie Ware)
Guess what's number 1?
"I wish I had always been true to myself and not lived the way others expected me to."
Being fully ourselves also means total freedom, because our sense of self is not dependent on external factors.
And when we are ourselves and go our own way, we also attract exactly those people who suit us and our way.
There is far too much judging in the world and instead of excluding people because they are different from our self-defined norm - we should be happy about the fact that we are all so different.
That's exactly what makes us so interesting and exciting.
The "authentic me" is something we possess when we are born. At that point we really are ourselves. Then we grow up and keep losing it. Only to then - hopefully (!) - find it again in the course of our lives.
I am convinced that in order to really make a difference in the world, we have to start with ourselves.
In my eyes we need to change our own behavior and perception. We need to become more conscious of ourselves, of how we relate to ourselves, of our fears, and of how and why we treat and value other people the way we do.
Only when we are true to ourselves and take care of ourselves are we able to take care of others. This is the basis for enabling an empathetic world.