Connecting to Your Authentic Self- for Teens

By Erica Rood, M.A. Ed.

What is your authentic self?

Your authentic self is a combination of your unique skills, talents, and personal wisdom.  It is who you truly are -- not what you do. So often, teens and adults fall into the trap of defining themselves by their accomplishments. While your authentic self recognizes accomplishments, it focuses more on the personal strengths that led you to them; the authentic self allows you to live a life that builds on your strengths.

Stepping into authenticity also means being able to recognize weaknesses and admit mistakes. Strengths and talents, along with flaws and weaknesses are all parts of our wholeness and living authentically, means living wholly, honestly, and fully in your truth.

Why is it important for teens?

The teen years are ruled by seeking answers to the question - Who am I? But it is increasingly difficult to find an honest answer to that question among so many mixed messages about who to be and how to live. Moreover, teens are growing up in a fast-paced, technology-centered world, where it is easy create false identities. They embellish online profiles in an effort to receive approval and validation. They experiment with everything from new outfits and groups of friends, to new ways to thinking and different jobs.

Girls especially suffer from an onslaught of conflicting messages -- be a sweet, soft little girl, be tough and sporty like a boy,  be hot and sexy like a bikini model. It’s no wonder they grow confused and wonder about who they really are. When this search for identity goes unaddressed, it can lead stress, depression, and low self-esteem. Now more than ever, it is essential for adults to support teens in connecting with their authentic selves. When teens identify their strengths and make a connection between those strengths and their successes, they feel good about their abilities and themselves. If they see how and where they can use their natural gifts to effectively cope with change and challenge, they grow more resilient to the medley of mixed messages about how to behave.   They understand how to cultivate and sustain nourishing relationships. They master challenges and pursue personal goals. They are more able to communicate honestly and openly because they can understand others more deeply. They are able to set boundaries so as to create connection and self-honor. They don’t need to embellish any part of their personality because they are proud to stand in their truth.

So, how can teens connect to their authentic self?

They can start by following these steps.

  1. Identify accomplishments. Think both big and small, remembering that an accomplishment is anything that they feel good about.
  2. Identify three challenges that they have overcome and what strengths they used to overcome those challenges. They can think about qualities, skills, attitudes, and support systems that supported them through the challenge.
  3. Identify their top ten strengths and how they can use those strengths to overcome current challenges or obstacles.
  4. Take action. Allow their personal qualities, skills, attitudes, and support systems transform their life.

Erica Rood, M.A. Ed. is a Certified Life Coach, Teacher, Author, Speaker, and Tween and Teen Enthusiast! She founded Inspire Balance to share her mission for educating and empowering girls to live happy, healthy lives.  Erica’s coaching is  unique because she combines her teaching skills with her life coach training to promote positive change through dynamic, engaging, and effective programs.  Find out more about Erica and her programs  at

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