When it comes to a life lived fully, authenticity is everything. Okay, maybe it’s not absolutely e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g. But it’s huge.

It seems like a no-brainer to simply be yourself. And yet, it’s not always easy. It takes guts.

It is understandable that we would succumb to the primal herd mentality. The need to fit in is a function of self-preservation in animals,  tribes, cults and college football stadiums. But how does that survival instinct really serve us now, in the information age?

Sure, it is still important to be a team player and play by the rules, with discernment.  Belonging is one thing. That can be appropriate, respectful, necessary–even sweet. And certainly, being different just for the sake of going against the grain is self-indulgent and misguided. But snuffing out your shining spark just so you don’t get any heat? Nah. That is just shrinking. It only breeds mediocrity. Homogeneity. Unrealized potential. Unlived dreams. Frustration. Boredom. Stagnation. Even depression. And then come the anti-depressants. Hello, epidemic!

Better to step up.

“Be yourself. There is something that you can do better than any other. Listen to the inward voice and bravely obey that.” – Unknown.

The price of unconcscious conformity is the tragic loss of self. And it’s not just you who misses out. It is all those who would benefit from your fiery essence unfiltered.  People who are truly guided by their inner compass, or what I refer to as the Inspired Self, are non-conformists. We have to be. Because even though we are all connected, none of us are the same. When by Graur Razvan Ionutyou anchor in your Inspired Self and follow where it leads, you are going to go your own way.

Think of a time when the flock was headed in one direction and you just knew that was not meant for you. So you flew the other way. You zigged when they were zagging. Not to be contrary. To be true to yourself. Now, if you owned the rightness of that decision and let it resonate internally, you probably felt amazing. Energized. Confident. Alive. On fire. All the way you.

When we answer the inner call, follow our intuition and honor our own divinely inspired wisdom, we go beyond self-awareness to self-love. Schwing.

Don’t ask permission from anyone else to do what rings true. No one really gets what goes on inside you like you do. How could they? You know that fire you feel in your heart when your passion is ignited? That flutter in your gut that says, go for it? That’s all the thumbs up you need.

“Do something that nobody else has done. Something that will dazzle the world.” – Paramahansa Yogananda

Now do the rest of us a favor and go be you. To the utmost extreme.