Authentic at Work: How to Balance Being Professional and Being Yourself


Being authentic at work can be important to how you feel about yourself. But it’s also not that easy to do with some types of jobs. If you’re more unique and want to express that individuality, but yet you work in a corporate environment, it could be difficult to find a balance. Still, it’s possible for you to balance being professional and being yourself, as long as you’re willing to look for the compromises and adjustments you need to make. Here are some of the most important things to consider.

Look for the Right Employment Fit

When you really want to be authentic, one of the ways to do that is to find employment that fits you. If who you are and how you express yourself is really a bad fit for the kind of work you’re doing, you may want to consider changing jobs or even finding a new career. That’s not always easy, especially if you really love what you do, but that doesn’t mean you can’t explore other options.

You may also want to look for different types of careers in your same field or industry, that would be a more suited to the kinds of ways you want to be authentic. Usually, being authentic has to do with how you dress and carry yourself, but it may also have to do with religious differences, how outspoken you are, and other factors. Finding the best kind of work for your needs and values is a good start toward being able to be more authentic while still remaining professional.

Consider What You Can Cover Up

By cover up, we don’t mean hiding things you shouldn’t be hiding, or getting into legal issues. Instead, consider the ways you express yourself and be authentic to your values, that don’t show at work. For example, if you have leg tattoos, but you always wear pants or long skirts to work, that shouldn’t be an issue for your employer. Thinking about what you can and can’t hide under clothing at work may have an effect on how you choose to express yourself. If it doesn’t show at work, it generally shouldn’t matter.

Separate Your Work Life and Home Life

Another way to balance being professional and being yourself is to keep your work “persona” different from who you are at home. That may not fit everyone’s definition of being authentic at work, but there’s a difference between making some adjustments and being asked to compromise your values or beliefs. If you’re able to enjoy your work environment, and you’re comfortable with it, you can let loose after work and keep your professional demeanor when you’re at the office.

There’s a lot of value to being authentic at work, but there’s also a lot of value to being able to have a career in a field or industry that’s important to you. Because of that, you want to make sure you’re balancing being yourself and being professional in the best possible way for your future. Don’t settle for a career where you can’t have some authenticity, but also consider making some concessions in order to keep a career that’s important to you. That balance can make all the difference for your happiness.

About the Author: Michelle Dakota Beck has worked as a professional freelance writer since the 1990s. During that time she has written everything from product descriptions to full-length books. Her areas of specialization include real estate, home services, legal topics, relationships, family life, and mental health issues. You can find her on WriterAccess.

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