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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Ball State chapter.

As 2023 nears its end, declarations of both New Year’s resolutions and the “tops” of this year are coming out. A “top” that’s on Merriam-Webster’s list and was voted the Word of the Year is: authentic!

Merriam-Webster has five definitions for authentic with the first definition being, “Not false or imitation: REAL, ACTUAL.” The dictionary explains that their definition was based on the increase in searches for authenticity that followed the trends of AI and celebrities. So, how can we apply this and end our year authentically? What does that mean?

Never-Ending Resolutions

Every New Year’s Day we enter the year proclaiming that we will be a new person. What’s a New Year without a “New Me”? In our brains, we start listing all the things that we need to do to become “happy”:

  1. Quit drinking (alcohol, coffee, soda, etc.)
  2. Exercise, lose that Quarantine weight
  3. Spend more time with loved ones

The lists go on, but a lot of the time we never truly complete the list and we hold it against ourselves. And each year that we don’t feel satisfied, we repeat the cycle, and eventually, we just become burnt out before January even ends. 

“Blue Check” Your Life

Just like how people yearn for that blue check beside their name on social media to validate themselves, you should work towards finding the authentic you IRL so you can feel validated by yourself. Instead of focusing on the attention of others, doing what others expect of you, or doing everything in your life to please others, you should be doing what makes you happy.

Instead of continuing the cycle of unhappiness to create the fake you, find the things that make you happy and work towards them. You may not be able to recognize what you really want at first, so try new things to find that authentic version of yourself. 

Finding Authenticity

Explore your core values! Try that art class you saw on that flier, or even just sit in nature. Finding your authentic self shouldn’t be based on what others say, so the examples I give you may not even point towards what you see as authentic, but you’ll be able to tell one that day when you smile, you aren’t faking who you are anymore. 

Work on becoming self-aware about what creates the warmth within your soul. Leave 2023 with the goal of understanding who you are as an individual: your ideology, personality, what flavor of candy you like, etc. But, don’t try to rush yourself because you can’t rush the growth of the flower without killing it. 

What the New Year Means

If you loved the 2023 you, then continue being you and flourishing in your interests. However, if you haven’t been able to find your authentic self, then explore it! You are a seed that needs to be nourished with joy, so you can flourish too. Explore anything that peaks the curiosity inside you, maybe you’ll like it or maybe you won’t, but you will be starting a new path to the true authentic you. If something doesn’t work out, then you can try again and continue your journey to the authentic you the next year.

Abigail Whitaker

Ball State '27

Abigail Whitaker is completing her studies at Ball State University. She is an English (Creative Writing) and Psychology double major, with intentions to pursue Law School. She graduated from Shortridge Highschool with a highschool and International Baccalaureate Diploma. Abigail enjoys long conversations and you can find her taking pleasure in singing or writing poetry.