17 Characteristics of an Authentic Person (With Examples)

Imagine meeting someone who simply seems real. You can’t quite put your finger on it, but their words, their actions—everything just feels true. That’s the magic of authenticity.

But what does being authentic really look like?

In this article, we’re going to find out what it means to be someone who’s really and truly real. And as we dig deeper, perhaps we’ll find that being authentic isn’t out of reach for any of us. 

They Act With Intention

Authentic individuals don’t leave their lives to chance; they make thoughtful choices and set clear goals. They know where they want to go and take steps that lead them closer to their destination. It’s not about big leaps or sudden changes but about consistent, purposeful action.

Here’s what that looks like:

  • They set goals that resonate with their values.
  • Decisions are made after careful thought, not on a whim.
  • Their actions impact not only themselves but also the people around them in positive ways.

They Express their Emotions Genuinely

Authentic people don’t hide behind a mask. Whether they are filled with joy, struck by sadness, or caught in frustration, they let those feelings out. They aren’t dramatic about it; they’re just honest, and this honesty in expressing emotions tells you that what you see is real.

And while they’re true to their feelings, they’re also thoughtful about how they share them. They understand that their words and ways of showing emotion can affect others. So they choose to express themselves in a way that’s gentle and considerate, building trust with their honest but kind communication.

They Speak Their Truth

An authentic person isn’t afraid to say what they really think. This doesn’t mean they are harsh or rude, far from it. Instead, they share their thoughts and opinions in a respectful way, even if it’s different from everyone else’s.

No beating around the bush or saying things just to please others. They are straight shooters but in the kindest way possible.

For example, if a friend asks for their opinion on a tricky situation, they don’t give some wishy-washy answer. They’ll gently but clearly say what they believe, even if it might not be what their friend wants to hear.

They Respect Their Values

Authentic people look to their values to find the right path. It’s not about what’s easy or popular; it’s about what aligns with their beliefs and what they stand for.

This respect for values shows up in their everyday life as they:

  1. Choose careers that not only pay the bills but also feel right for them, even if it means less money or fame.
  2. Pick hobbies and pastimes that bring them real joy rather than just following trends.
  3. Surround themselves with friends who share similar values, creating a supportive and like-minded community.

They Admit Their Mistakes

Nobody’s perfect, and the truly authentic person gets that. They mess up, like we all do, but instead of covering it up, they own it.

They’re the ones who’ll step forward and say, “I made a mistake,” and they don’t do it because they want praise. They admit it because they believe it’s the right thing to do. It’s about taking responsibility and learning so they can do better next time.

They Practice Humility

True humility is a quality that shines brightly in authentic people. They don’t boast about their successes or look down on others. Instead, they recognize their achievements while keeping their feet firmly on the ground. 

Imagine a colleague who just got a big promotion. Instead of bragging, they recognize the teamwork it took to get there. That’s humility in action. It’s like they’re wearing invisible crowns—they don’t need to show off because their actions speak volumes.

They Show Vulnerability

It takes courage to let your real self be seen, but that’s exactly what authentic individuals do. They don’t hide behind a wall; they let others in, and this creates deep, meaningful relationships.

In showing vulnerability, authentic people:

  • Talk about their dreams and goals, even when they seem out of reach.
  • Are not afraid to ask for help; they know we all need a hand sometimes.
  • Share their struggles, knowing it might help someone else feel less alone.

They Strive for Growth

Authentic people are lifelong learners, not just in books or classrooms but in every aspect of life. They’re the ones who ask questions, who are curious, and who never settle, knowing there’s always room to grow.

Here’s what you’ll notice about those who strive for growth:

  • They seek out new experiences and challenges to stretch themselves.
  • They reflect on their experiences to understand what they’ve learned.
  • They set goals to help them keep moving forward.

They Listen to Their Intuition

You know that little inner voice that sometimes whispers a warning or an encouragement? Authentic people give that voice a seat at the table. They listen to their intuition because it’s often the unfiltered truth speaking from the core of who they are.

Sometimes it’s a gut feeling; other times, it’s a flicker of insight, but it always carries weight with them.

Let’s say someone is considering a job offer, and something just feels off. They won’t ignore that feeling. Instead, they’ll dig deeper, maybe even turning down a seemingly great opportunity because they’re staying true to what feels right to them.

They Accept Their Flaws

Authentic people understand that having flaws is part of being human, and they don’t waste time trying to pretend they’re flawless. Instead, they accept their imperfections and recognize that these unique quirks contribute to who they are.

Accepting flaws doesn’t mean they don’t try to improve themselves, but they do so with kindness towards themselves.

For example, let’s say they’re not the best at public speaking. They won’t hide away or beat themselves up over it; instead, they’ll accept that it’s a challenge for them and maybe even find ways to improve and laugh along the way.

They Maintain a Positive Outlook

Authentic people approach life with a positivity that’s contagious. They aren’t wearing rose-colored glasses, ignoring life’s challenges, but they choose to focus on the good rather than the bad. This positive outlook isn’t just for themselves; it spreads to those around them, encouraging a hopeful perspective in any situation.

Here are some ways you can see their positive outlook in action:

  • Celebrating small wins, even on days when big goals seem far away.
  • Encouraging others to see the good in themselves and in challenging situations.
  • Keeping a gratitude journal where they remind themselves of the positives daily.

They Are Present in the Moment

It’s easy to get lost in thoughts of the past or worries about the future, but authentic people make it a point to be present at the moment. They engage fully with the here and now, knowing that life is happening in every breath we take.

Being present means:

  • They aren’t distracted when someone is speaking to them; they give their full attention, making the other person feel valued.
  • They savor the current experience, whether it’s a simple meal or a casual walk, fully immersing themselves in the activity.

They Respect Others’ Boundaries

Authentic people understand and appreciate that everyone has their own comfort zones. They recognize the invisible lines that define personal space and privacy, both physically and emotionally. By respecting these boundaries, they demonstrate care and consideration for the needs and wishes of others.

Here’s how this might look in practice:

  • They ask permission before sharing someone else’s news or personal story.
  • They accept a ‘no‘ without pushing or guilt-tripping the other person.
  • When someone needs space, they give it graciously without taking offense.

They Seek Meaningful Connections

Authentic people don’t just collect acquaintances; they cultivate deep and lasting relationships. It’s about finding people who understand and share their values, passions, quirks, and conversations that last hours but feel like minutes.

In seeking meaningful connections, authentic people are not afraid to be themselves, and they encourage the same from others. They create a safe space for friends and loved ones to express their true selves. This willingness to be real and to accept others as they are is what draws people to them and fosters strong bonds that stand the test of time.

They Are Resourceful and Adaptive

Authentic people stand out by how they gracefully adapt to new situations. They don’t crumble under pressure; they rise to the occasion with creativity and resourcefulness.

Here are some ways authentic individuals showcase their resourcefulness and adaptiveness:

  • When a plan falls through, they quickly come up with a plan B (or C or D).
  • If they’re missing a tool or ingredient needed to finish a task, they innovate with what they have on hand.
  • They stay informed and curious, which helps them adapt to shifts in trends and norms, whether at work or in their personal lives.

They Contribute to Their Community

Giving back is a hallmark of authentic people. They pour their energy and talents into their communities, knowing that the well-being of those around them contributes to a fuller, more connected life for everyone.

Their contributions can take many forms, and they don’t necessarily have to shout about it from the rooftops—it’s often the quiet helping hand that makes the difference.

Here’s how authentic individuals contribute to their communities:

  • Volunteering their time at local schools, shelters, or clean-up drives.
  • Supporting local businesses and initiatives that aim to make the neighborhood better.
  • Being active participants in community discussions, offering their insights and time.

They Appreciate Simplicity

Authentic people have a refreshing appreciation for simplicity. They find beauty in the uncomplicated aspects of life, recognizing that sometimes less is indeed more. This doesn’t necessarily mean they lead minimalist lives, but they don’t chase extravagance for the sake of it. They’re content with what they have and find joy in the ordinary.

When authentic people appreciate simplicity, you may notice:

  • They favor quality over quantity in their belongings and relationships.
  • They engage in down-to-earth pleasures like a walk in nature or a homemade meal.
  • They steer clear of complicating matters unnecessarily, whether it’s planning an event or solving a problem.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does being authentic mean you always have to be serious and deep?

Not at all. Authentic people have a full range of emotions and expressions—joy, humor, sadness, and so on. Being authentic includes enjoying the light-hearted moments of life and sharing them with others.

Can being authentic make it harder to fit in?

Sometimes, yes. Authenticity means you might not conform to everyone’s expectations, which can sometimes lead to feeling out of place. However, it also attracts like-minded people and creates a support system that truly resonates with your genuine self.

What should I do if my authenticity isn’t well-received?

It’s important to remember that not everyone will respond positively to your authenticity, and that’s okay. Stay true to yourself, and know that the right people will appreciate your genuineness. Ensure you’re being respectful in your authenticity and understand that it’s about being true to yourself, not seeking approval from others.

Final Thoughts

Remember, being authentic is about staying true to yourself, and your values and being honest with the people around you. It’s about the quiet confidence of knowing who you are and living that truth every single day.

So, take a moment, reflect on the traits I’ve shared, and ask yourself if they feel familiar.

Are they a part of your journey? If they are, that’s wonderful. If not, that’s okay too. Every day gives us a fresh chance to be a little more us, a little more real, a little more authentic. 

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Bea is an editor and writer with a passion for literature and self-improvement. Her ability to combine these two interests enables her to write informative and thought-provoking articles that positively impact society. She enjoys reading stories and listening to music in her spare time.