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How just being yourself and authentic will lead to a life of opportunity

just being yourself - girl with nose ring

Authenticity…

When you’re truly authentic, just being yourself and truly honest with the world, something magical happens over time that can never be replaced. A genuine connection is made, a love and appreciation for who you truly are is established…and trust me, that’s more valuable than any amount of likes or comments that a fake version of your self could ever produce.

Be true, be who you are, and don’t settle for being anything other than that – you and every one you come in contact with deserves it.

Here’s my story and how I came about this understanding.

just being yourself - man looking at camera

There I sat dressed in my best interview suit, my resume finely tuned, feeling elated from a stellar interview, and ready to shake hands with the hiring manager because after being laid off for four months and struggling to keep a roof above my head I had finally been offered a job-then I heard the death blow come from the lips of the hiring manager right after he congratulated me on the position.

Now all we have to do is run a background check and you’ll be good to go, welcome to the team son!”

Immediately my heart dropped down to my stomach because I knew that as soon as the HR department saw the two felony drug charges on my record it was lights out and back to being broke and unemployed for me. This isn’t the first time this has happened, and wouldn’t be the last, but to say I was tired of this on going wrestling match with corporate America and how the work place refuses to give felons a second chance would be an understatement. Currently 77% of felons who are released from prison get arrested again for a new crime within three years of their release.

The reason?

No one in the work force believes that they are worthy of being given an opportunity to truly put the past behind them.

I take full responsibility for my actions and I understand what I did was wrong, but I had already paid my debt to society for the crimes I committed almost ten years ago so why should I continue to be punished by not being given the opportunity to make better of the rest of my life and contribute to society in a positive way?

Apparently the hiring manager felt the same way because when he saw that somber look in my eyes and I confessed to him that I had a criminal record his facial expression soon matched mine and the deathblow slowly trickled from between his lips.

“Young man, as bad as I want to hire you I just can’t-the higher up’s have a policy in place that I know they won’t bend for. How ever, I refuse to tell you that I’m sorry because I’m not, before you walk out of that door there’s something that you need to know…

I quickly straightened up, prepared to defend my self thinking he was going to give me some spill about how wrong it is to commit crime and that I should be ashamed of my self for my actions, not knowing how much effort I put into changing my ways, but that didn’t happen.

Instead he told me something that gave me hope and completely eradicated any shame I ever felt for the things I did and gave me the energy to get to where I am today.

What he told me gave me true insight into what it means to be yourself.

I knew from the minute I interviewed you in the first round that there was something different about you. At first I was taken aback by the massive amount of tattoos that cover your body and I was slightly apprehensive to interview a man chose to permanently ink his face and his eyelids, but as soon as you sat down and we began talking I knew there was something greatly unique about you.
I’ve been in sales for over 20 years of my life, I can spot a fake from a mile away, but you’re different…

“You’re honest about your flaws and you don’t try to overtly play up your strengths. You have a poise about you that says, ‘I’ve been through some things in my life that I’m not proud of. However, it hasn’t slowed me down and I refuse to let any one or anything stop me from getting what I want out of life.’

And that’s precisely why I’m not sorry that I can’t hire you, because this job isn’t meant for you. Christopher, if you never see me again I want you to remember this…

You are born for greatness, and everything that you’ve been through has made you who you are. Where most people would see your record and be appalled, I see it as proof of a man that’s willing to risk anything to get to where he desires to go, even his own freedom and that’s impressive. Promise to always be authentic no matter where life takes you, because that is ultimately what’s going to get you ahead, I wish you well.

Never in my life had I met someone whom I considered massively successful tell me such things about myself and from that day forward I swore that I would never feel ashamed again for my past.

I became committed to no longer covering up my tattoos, or being embarrassed of what I’ve done or who I am.

I felt obligated to no longer be apprehensive of the color of my skin or the weight of my criminal record and I fell completely in love with being my authentic self and telling my truth to the world-no matter what.

Fast forward a few years later and I’m more comfortable in my own skin than I ever was. Regardless of what I go through or how I’m judged I’m 100% positive that I am who I am for a reason and I stand behind that in a way that draws the right people to me.

I tell you this story because I’ve noticed an ongoing plague within society- especially in the world of social media where we are praised with likes, and retweets, and shares for being someone that we are not.

But that’s the thing, all those like and shares are just vanity metrics and in the grand scheme of things they really don’t mean anything.

You should never let the power of someone else’s opinion of you affect your own inner joy and confidence. Just be you and do you.

You don’t need to take an endless amount of selfies as way to validate your worth in this world.

The fact that you were born with the ability to think for your self and chose your own path is sufficient enough evidence to prove you are worthy to be who you are.

Besides… you want to know what people truly like and appreciate about you… regardless of where you’re from, what weight you are, the things you’ve done in the past, or the color of your skin.

Authenticity.

Written by Christopher Grate

Christopher Grate is a social media manager and digital marketer for small business owners as well as a personal branding specialist. He has been studying personal development for almost ten years and is committed to inspiring his own generation and the ones after him to live life to their truest and most full extent. If you’d like to learn more about him you can connect with him via Facebook www.facebook.com/ChristopherJGrate and Instagram: @thechristophergrate

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