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Actors are often told to “be authentic” in their performances. After all, the ability to bring life to characters by tapping into one’s own personality, emotions, quirks, and experiences is key to achieving excellence in acting. Indeed, the great Stanislavski once said, “The person you are is a hundred times more interesting than the best actor you could ever become.” But giving an authentic performance likely has something to do with being an authentic person in general. So how exactly does someone grow in their authenticity? 

In the TED Talk Saying YES! to Your Weirdness, emotional healing coach and YouTuber JP Sears shines light on people’s unique and perhaps strange impulses, beliefs, mannerisms, and personal qualities. That is, he encourages individuals to embrace, rather than hide, their weirdness, arguing, “When you look at what’s most weird about you, please consider that what you’re really looking at is the real you. Then the real question is: Are you willing to risk saying yes to being you?” 

As Sears discusses the reasons people learn to conceal their true natures over time, he finds a way to weave a lot of humor into his otherwise rather serious talk. 

A Dangerous but Necessary Liability 

“I do believe that the most dangerous liability in our world today is being yourself,” he starts. “Think about it: If you’re being yourself, someone might actually find out who you really are. They might actually see you … They might make fun of you. They might reject you. They might actually accept you too.” 

He argues that when people attempt to blend in and be regarded as normal, what they are really doing is rejecting their true selves and treating themselves as an enemy. “We reject ourselves because that ensures that nobody else is going to reject us,” Sears says. “If I reject me first, then you don’t get any of me because I don’t bring me to the table. So you can never reject me as long as I’m rejecting myself.” 

For this reason, Sears believes that being normal is “the most pervasive disease in our world today.” He also contends the cure for this disease is—you guessed it—innate weirdness; specifically, “the traits, the tendencies, the behaviors, the perspectives that help make you unique.” 

Instead of asking what could go wrong if people were to suddenly unleash their oddities upon the world, Sears focuses on all the things that could go right. First of all, weirdness leads us to “not who we think we are, not even who we want to be, but something far more significant —it leads us to who we actually are.” When people take risks and are unapologetically true to themselves, it inspires others. “I guarantee nobody has ever inspired other people by excelling at normalcy,” he asserts. 

To achieve this kind of authenticity, Sears says to follow these three steps: 

1. Embrace discomfort. Exhibit a willingness to embrace discomfort is essential to being yourself. You might feel afraid, embarrassed, or face rejection, for example. 

2. Find purpose in your pain. “Would you be willing to bring purpose to your pain?” Sears asks. Look for the blessings within your curse. 

3. Amuse thyself. Part of the purpose of life is to find ways to amuse yourself. If you are interested in what you are doing, it will “help posture you better to embody the yes to your weirdness,” Sears insists. Turning on your weirdness is not like turning on a light switch. Rather, Sears sees it more as a moment-by-moment choice along the journey of life. It starts with being aware that a choice indeed exists in the first place—an option to break out of what is normal and become a more authentic individual. “I think we’re all thirsty to experience ourselves,” Sears says.