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There’s a lot of negative backlash about people who live their lives unapologetically.
Those who do so are often called selfish, arrogant, narcissistic, spoiled, and a range of other slurs by their naysayers.
The question, however, is whether those labels are actually valid, or if the naysayers are simply too cowardly to do the same, so they have to slander those who dare to live as authentically as possible.
The truth of it is significantly simpler, but can be more difficult to put into practice.
What does it mean to be unapologetically YOU?
In simplest terms, being unapologetically you means living in complete authenticity without pandering to other people’s expectations of you. It’s being who you want to be, living the life that you want.
No apologies or excuses for your life choices. In fact, no explanations either. If you care about someone and want to share aspects of yourself with them, cool… but you don’t feel any obligation to explain yourself when it comes to things like personal preferences, esthetics, and such.
This can be very challenging for many people to do.
From day one, most of us have been programmed to conform and obey:
Don’t cause a scene, don’t stand out too much. Behave and try to look like everyone else so you blend in and don’t make anyone else uncomfortable. If you don’t, you’re a shallow attention-seeker who’s out to cause trouble. Take the sensible path and set your dreams aside. Choose responsibility over joy, duty over passion. Keep a stiff upper lip, make do, and keep on keeping on.
That kind of life may be fine for some, even most people, but not everyone. Many will find it stifling, and that’s when living authentically must become a priority.
5 things that will happen when you start to be unapologetically yourself:
You’re likely familiar with cause and effect, right? Well, all actions have reactions and consequences, and you’ll inevitably have to deal with some of them once you start being unapologetically you.
Some will be great and some will be challenging, but the freedom in living an authentic life is well worth any temporary discomfort.
1. A lot of people are going to get upset with you.
Especially those who have expectations about how they feel you “should” be. You’ll inevitably get feedback on how disappointed they are by your life choices and how things could be so much better if you were different.
This may be their perspective, based on their own wants and desires that they’ve projected onto you. Or it could be anger at the fact that they’re trapped in the confines of their own lives, which you have managed to escape.
2. You’ll get unsolicited advice and warnings.
If you show up at a family gathering with a new full-sleeve tattoo, or inform people that you’ve changed your name, you can expect some hardcore backlash. This goes along with them being upset about you not living up to their ideas of how you should be, as listed above.
This feedback will often come in the form of warnings; as though they’re actually concerned for your wellbeing and just want the best for you. They hide their manipulation behind a veneer of altruism.
3. People will call you a jerk.
Because you are challenging their way of thinking and living as though it were a personal affront to them. They don’t have the guts to live authentically, the way they want to, so they hate you for doing what they can’t.
Naturally, that makes you the a**hole. This is where labels such as “selfish” and “arrogant” come into play. Those who can’t (or won’t) usually end up slandering those who do. And so there will be mudslinging and name calling, and you’ll likely end up being trash-talked throughout your social circle.
Maintain your grace and dignity, and let them say what they will. Sticks and stones, and all that. This might be difficult for you if you’re sensitive to insults and condemnations, so it’s important to brace yourself for the inevitability ahead of time.
4. You will end up bruising people’s egos.
Many people take others’ choices as a personal affront to themselves. If other people take different life paths than they did, it somehow invalidates or undermines their own choices. As you can imagine, this can wreak havoc on their overall sense of self—on their confidence and contentment in their own lives and their place in the world.
And what happens when people feel confused or threatened? Their fight-or-flight mechanism kicks in. As such, you’ll likely either find yourself arguing with a lot of people or discover that they’ve just exited stage left from your life.
5. You’ll feel a sense of immense freedom and fulfillment.
Have you ever come inside after working outdoors in summertime, stripped down to your birthday suit, and either basked in the glory of air conditioning or a cool shower? Do you remember how amazing that felt?
You’ll get the same sensation when being completely and unapologetically YOU.
You won’t be adapting yourself to suit anyone else’s wants anymore. No masks, no costumes, no carefully cultivated facades meant to soothe other people’s expectations. Just the complete and total freedom of living your life exactly the way you want to. You’ll feel joy in the work you choose, contentment at your surroundings, comfort at the reflection in the mirror, and an overall sense of “this feels absolutely right to me.”
Doesn’t that sound fantastic?
How to live as authentically and unapologetically as possible.
The techniques for being unapologetically yourself will differ from one person to the next, but there are some common themes that may be helpful. Below are some tips that may help you cultivate your most authentic self. They can give you the confidence to live life wholly and completely on your terms.
1. Take time for deep introspection about who you are.
All of us have an array of different interests and leanings. They’re the many facets that make us who we are, and there’s often a fair bit of overlap involved. Take some time to think about—and prioritize—the things that are most important to you with regard to how you’d want to live your life if you had the complete freedom to do so.
Consider some of these questions:
- In an ideal world, what would you choose to look like?
- How would you dress?
- Where would you want to live? And in what kind of home?
- How would you decorate it?
- Which kinds of foods make you happiest?
- What type of life purpose would bring you the greatest fulfillment?
- How about hobbies and pastimes? How do you want to spend your free time?
- What kind of relationship(s) would you want, if any?
All of these questions are important because they can help you put together a solid picture of the kind of life you want to live.
2. Be brave and take that leap (followed by more leaps!).
Now that you’ve sorted out the details about how you want your life to look, put those into practice.
Do you want to be covered in tattoos? Dye your hair rainbow colors? Dress like you stepped out of Assassin’s Creed or Skyrim? Be a monk or a nun? Change your religion/name/gender?
Nothing’s going to change until you take a deep breath and dive in. Do something tangible to change things, and everything else will unfold after that.
The first step in living authentically is always the most difficult because of the programmed hesitation involved. Try to see that as the upward pull of a rollercoaster. Once you start moving past the highest point, you gather momentum and just keep going.
3. Lean into where it hurts to learn what needs adjusting.
If you’ve been feeling depressed or anxious about certain aspects of your life, then those are the aspects that need the most urgent care. Basically, if you’re feeling these things, they’re indications that change is needed. Your psyche is all but screaming at you to pay attention to where it hurts so the issues can be addressed.
Think about this rather like an injury you’ve sustained. When you hurt yourself, all your energy and attention goes toward awareness of what’s hurting and how to heal it.
You’ve slammed your shin into the coffee table again? Well, then you probably needed to wrap your hands around it and hold it until the initial pain eased, then followed that with an ice pack and some aspirin.
Consider this a form of mental and emotional triage: the aspects of your life that are causing you the most grief and distress are the ones that need to be addressed first.
Or you could just ignore all the warning signs and stagnate where you are for the sake of making other people happy. Your call.
4. Be prepared to hurt or disappoint others.
In her famous poem “The Invitation,” writer Oriah Mountain Dreamer offers this gem:
“I want to know if you can disappoint another to be true to yourself. If you can bear the accusation of betrayal and not betray your own soul.”
Are you prepared to do these things? Because by being unapologetically you, you are going to hurt and disappoint other people. That’s not a possibility; it’s an inevitability.
Most of us struggle with at least a few aspects of life that we resent—even despise—for the sake of other people’s happiness. We don’t want to hurt or disappoint them, or possibly lose them, so we set ourselves on fire to keep them warm. But we can only do that for so long until our own fuel runs out and there’s nothing but ash and smoke left.
You might be in a relationship or marriage that hasn’t felt right to you for a long time, but you’re hesitant to move on because you don’t want to hurt your partner or children. Yet every fiber of your being might be aching to live a totally different life. Maybe you’re attracted to a different gender, or have realized that you’re nonbinary, trans, or asexual.
Or perhaps instead of a chaotic family life, you’d prefer years of silence and solitude in a Nepalese sangha.
So the question is, are you willing to hurt others and risk being screamed at for your supposed betrayal in order to live life authentically?
5. Stop apologizing for being true to yourself.
A major aspect of being unapologetically yourself is to stop saying “sorry” for being who and how you are. Most of us are accustomed to making ourselves small in order to ensure that others aren’t uncomfortable around us.
Enough of that.
Take up whatever space you need, and don’t apologize for your choices. You don’t owe any aspect of your life to anyone else, and if they’re upset or offended because you’re being different or “weird,” then that’s a huge sign that they have quite a bit of personal growth ahead of them.
No apologies are needed for how you choose to present yourself, what you want to do for a living, what your spiritual leanings may be, or whom you choose to love. You didn’t come into this world to be an emotional support animal for anyone else, nor to embody their dreams and imaginings.
Your parents might have dreamed of having a child who was an Olympic athlete or surgeon, and they may feel immense disappointment that they created an academic or chef instead. They may express their sorrow on a regular basis and expect you to apologize for not living up to their wants, as though that’s acceptable in any realm of existence.
You don’t owe anyone any kind of apology for living your life. At all.
Now, if part of your dream life involves walking around with a dozen ferrets on leashes and they make an unholy mess on someone in public, then it’s perfectly reasonable to apologize on their behalf. But that’s another article entirely.
6. Stand your ground rather than being influenced by others.
One key aspect of being unapologetically yourself is living your personal truth. This means adhering to your own mind, leanings, and loves rather than letting other people influence you.
For example, you may have a strong opinion about a topic, but instead of standing your ground about how you feel, you acquiesce to what others say about it. Hell, you might even start to question your own mind in that regard.
This often happens when folks are used to people-pleasing as a result of trauma. They’re often afraid of standing their ground so as not to cause waves or make a scene in case they upset someone else.
Make a scene. Stand your ground.
7. Draw your inspiration from sources that you are attracted to.
What is it that you love the most? And how can you incorporate aspects of that into your life as a whole so you’re “living the dream,” so to speak? Never mind what anyone else’s judgements or condemnation might be.
What do you want to do? How do you want to live?
Are you so obsessed (and in love) with the Outlander era that you’d like to dedicate your life to 18th century historical recreation? Apply for a job at Colonial Williamsburg, Upper Canada Village, or a similar historical heritage site near you. If that’s not an option, or you’d prefer self-employment, consider opening a themed pub or B&B of that ilk.
Take up sewing and make your own clothes. Spin and dye yarn to sell on Etsy, or carve era-specific wooden utensils. Hell, if you like to work with wood, take up historical carpentry using only tools of that era.
Live life on your terms, doing what you love, without apology. And have fun while you’re doing so!
8. Stop worrying about what other people think of you.
“Those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.”
Basically, stop giving a damn about what other people might think of you or are saying behind your back. Or saying to your face, for that matter. In the grand scheme of things, their opinions simply don’t matter. They’re like buttholes: everybody has one, but nobody else wants to see or hear about them, do they?
Not everyone will like you. Similarly, no matter what you say, what you do, how you dress, or whom you love, you’re going to upset or offend someone. The opposite is true as well: you’ll also make a lot of others smile, and you might even inspire them to do what you’re doing too.
It might be helpful to remember that few people are thinking of you at all. When you go grocery shopping or out to grab a coffee, do you analyze everyone around you and make up stories about their lives? Or do you just go buy your eggs or latte and get on with your life?
That’s pretty much how everyone else feels too. They don’t care about what you’re wearing, and they aren’t analyzing your every move. They’re too wrapped up in their own lives—their worries, fears, insecurities, and personal problems—to pay you much mind at all.
So you can stop worrying about what people are thinking about you: they aren’t.
9.Temper healthy self-expression with cultural etiquette.
When I hear about people living unapologetically, I sometimes think about the character, Randy Marsh, from South Park and his classic quote: “I’ll do what I want, I thought this was America!” to justify his terrible behavior.
Yes, living in a way that’s unapologetically true to yourself is important, but so is not being a complete douche canoe.
You can be authentic and uncompromising in your life choices while still respecting other people’s sovereignty and personal space.
For example, if you’d like to bask in your favorite tunes 24/7, that’s perfectly valid. So choose a great pair of earbuds or headphones rather than subjecting other people to your love of pirate opera or Uzbek rap.
10. Learn to say “no” when you don’t want to say “yes.”
How many sweet seconds of your life have you wasted by doing things you don’t want to do, simply because you felt some kind of obligation? Yeah, let’s put an end to that immediately.
Too many people end up feeling resentment about obligations they were forced to agree to. This can include everything from attending events they’re not interested in to accepting gifts they don’t like. Decline with grace, but definitely decline when you want to. If other people’s feelings get hurt because you aren’t doing what they want, that’s for them to work through.
In addition to saying “no” to things you don’t want, it’s also important to not feel any obligation to explain why you’re declining, nor repeat your answer to anyone else’s satisfaction.
For example, if someone offers you some kind of food and you decline politely, they might try to encourage you to have some. “Just a bite,” or “Are you sure you won’t try some?” and if you’re sure, then “Why not?”
One effective response to their pressing after your initial “no thank you” is “I have already answered this question.” It’s blunt, so be sure to deliver it graciously rather than being biting or curt. They will likely be offended and bluster about how they were “only being polite,” in which case you can remind them that if that had been the case, the polite response would have been to respect your answer the first time you gave it.
You only have so many minutes in your life. Do you want to waste any of them saying “no” a dozen times or more just to make someone else happy?
11. Be uncompromising in guarding your own privacy.
Do you have a space that’s sacrosanct to you, such as a bedroom or study? A place that only you’re allowed into? Or perhaps it’s an item such as your phone or computer that’s off-limits to other people in your life?
Make it abundantly clear that these are yours and yours alone and that others do not have permission to invade your privacy in these matters. Set firm boundaries, and if others try to cross them, make it clear that there are consequences to their actions.
For example, if they’re not allowed in the study but decide to check it out anyway, then they’ve lost the privilege of entering your home at all.
Let the punishment fit the crime.
12. Do what feels good to you and makes you happiest.
Different people obviously have a wide variety of preferences as to what makes them happy. One person’s bliss is another’s torment and all that.
If you have a solid good idea about what it is that makes you feel best, then you know what to make a priority in your life. Just remember that balance is important, so it’s a good idea to integrate complimentary things into your life as well.
For example, if you’re big on fitness, you might joyfully spend most of your time working out and drinking protein smoothies. That would likely result in injury and gastro distress. Balance this out with dedicated rest days and a healthy diet. Similarly, if your happy place is reading voraciously while snacking, then make time for walks or yoga and nutritious meals.
Basically, do what you love but don’t sabotage your wellbeing over it. Balance is key.
13. Don’t wait for anyone else to give you permission for anything.
Do you want to keep the entire weekend free to go to a Sci-Fi convention? Or have cereal for dinner two days in a row simply because you really like it? Then do it. You don’t have to wait for anyone else to say that these choices are valid or cool. You’re an adult and can make whatever decisions you feel are best for you.
The same goes for things like taking or quitting a job, getting into or leaving a relationship, travelling, taking some much-needed time off, or literally anything else in your life.
Your parents may have had a say in your life up until you reached the age of maturity, but after that? None. Nor does your partner, friends, coworkers, children, or anyone else in your social life. Certainly not any online influencers who think they can discern what’s acceptable or cool.
14. Enjoy your pursuits regardless of what other people think or say about them.
Remember what we discussed earlier about other people’s opinions? A lot of folks might try to influence your life in order to make up for their shortcomings. They may even try to sabotage your pursuits and endeavors so they won’t feel bad about their own bad choices in life.
If something is important or inspiring to you, then it’s worth pursuing. Never mind anyone else’s input or opinion.
Is there a spiritual or religious tradition that’s calling to you? Then delve into it heart and soul. Or a subject you’ve always wanted to study? You’re never too old to go back to school, or to be autodidactic and study it on your own terms. Hobbies that other people think are stupid or weird? Enjoy every second of your time spent doing them.
15. Spend a fair amount of time alone.
Get into nature, away from the static of an urban environment and constant stimuli coming at you from all directions.
Daily life is full of minor assaults and intrusions, from ringing phones to unceasing prattle from those we live with. In fact, we don’t often realize just how much noise and stimuli hits us on the daily until we step away from it.
It’s when we remove ourselves from these buzzing, clicking environments and into a place of quiet contemplation that we’re able to be alone with our thoughts. When you’re not being constantly distracted and interrupted by others’ never-ending wants and needs, you have time to sort through what you’re thinking and feeling.
Maybe that’s one of the reasons why so many people like to be surrounded by said static: they’re afraid to be alone, in quiet, because they’re scared of what they might think or feel when they’re not constantly in a reactive state.
But it’s only when you’re alone that you can truly understand your own soul’s needs. There’s a reason why deeply spiritual people from all the world’s religions spend a great deal of time alone. We need peace, quiet, and solitude to still our thoughts and listen to the our inner voices, God, the universe, the All, or whatever else you want to call it. Only by doing so can we receive real clarity and the answers that we’re seeking.
As an added bonus, being alone means that you can do whatever you like without judgy eyes on you or any kind of demands. There’s no need to say “no” or feel a push to apologize when there’s nobody else around. Solitude = immense freedom, so be sure to take a lot of time for yourself, whenever possible.
A poll was taken across hospitals, hospices, and nursing homes worldwide to get an idea of what dying people regret the most. And do you know what was number one on the list, across the board?
“I wish I’d had the courage to live a life that was true to myself, rather than the life others wanted or expected of me.”
We’re only on this amazing little planet for a very short time. If you don’t live a life that’s true to yourself, you aren’t going to have a chance to redo it. There’s no reset button here, nor any way to go back and redo things differently.
If you aren’t being unapologetically you, living the life that you want, maybe now is the time to ask yourself why not. Then, once you have your answer, consider changing the course to one of greater authenticity and adventure.
Still don’t feel ready to be unapologetically yourself? Talking to someone can really help you to handle whatever life throws at you. It’s a great way to get your thoughts and your worries out of your head so you can work through them.
We really recommend you speak to a therapist rather than a friend or family member. Why? Because they are trained to help people in situations like yours. They can help you to work through any inner and outer challenges you may face on your transition to a more authentic life.
A good place to get professional help is the website BetterHelp.com – here, you’ll be able to connect with a therapist via phone, video, or instant message.
While you may try to work through this yourself, it may be a bigger issue than self-help can address. And if it is affecting your mental well-being, relationships, or life in general, it is a significant thing that needs to be resolved.
Too many people try to muddle through and do their best to overcome issues that they never really get to grips with. If it’s at all possible in your circumstances, therapy is 100% the best way forward.
Click here if you’d like to learn more about the service BetterHelp.com provide and the process of getting started.
You’ve already taken the first step just by searching for and reading this article. The worst thing you can do right now is nothing. The best thing is to speak to a therapist. The next best thing is to implement everything you’ve learned in this article by yourself. The choice is yours.
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