Authenticity…so uncool. Like, totally.

I still get squeamish when I remember the day I walked into my high school lunch room wearing what was apparently the wrong clothing.


It was a peach colored, double knit dress, and it was too short. I don’t remeber where I got it but it was likely a thrift shop as it was significantly out of style. I thought it looked great on me.

The other students – pointing and openly laughing – confirmed what I’d always suspected. I was hopelessly out of place.

Out of my league.

Not only was I not “cool,” I realized I was never going to be.

A few more episodes like that (way too many!) and I quickly closed up. The real me, the one I absolutely love now, didn’t fit in and I needed to hide her away as best as I could.

I spent a good part of my life cultivating a “persona” – that side of me I allow others access to, born from my fears of being exposed as someone who just wasn’t “good enough.”

But perfecting a persona is just a clever way to play small.

Not only is it unfulfilling, it’s exhausting.

My daughter has threatened to write a blog called “The real life of Ann Vertel” and pepper it with video of me trying to roller blade, rolling on the living room floor with our dog, speaking in made up voices, or dancing around the kitchen with my sweat pants hiked up to my arm pits.

It’s not pretty, but it is me.

Nerdy. Silly. Goofy. Authentic.

And wow does it feel good to revel in it!

Being vulnerable feels like weakness.

But have you ever noticed when you observe someone else being vulnerable, you are witness to true courage?

When you open up, when you let others see a part of you that feels embarassing, silly, gawky, or misunderstood, it allows those around you to relate to you on a viseral level.

It allows them to say, “me too.”

I’ve interviewed countless women about what makes them successful. Those who hit extraordinary levels all said the same thing – once they embraced their authenticity – who they really were, warts and all – the floodgates opened.

They no longer had to work at being a second-rate version of someone else. They were free to be the best version of themselves and that was liberating.

Your ability to be transparent, to be vulnerable, to let others see the “real you” is your greatest strength.

Whatever you’re doing this week, whether it’s work or hanging out with your friends, let them see a little of the real, authentic you, the part you packed away years ago.

That’s where you true gifts are.

And that’s where you’ll find your magic, the part that makes you unique. The reason your true friends adore you.

Show us the “not boring” you and turn the corner toward extraordinary success.

Now go live YOUR bigger story!
– Ann

Leadership and Success Expert

Dr. Ann Vertel is a leadership and success expert, motivational psychologist, and 20-year Naval Officer. She speaks, trains, coaches, and consults on personal leadership, professional development, and how to take charge of your life, your career, and everything in between. Want her to speak to your organization? Learn more…