Just had one of those moments. I realized that I've been going on and on about "authenticity" and the whole time I've been assuming that everyone reads Sartre and Kierkegaard in their free time. Anyway, here's what wikipedia has to say about it: authenticity. Not the greatest explanation I've ever seen, but it's a nice primer.
I prefer to take my lead from Jean Paul Sartre. In Being and Nothingness, and also more concisely in Existentialism is a Humanism, he essentially says that human beings are condemned to be free. We exist. And we exist in the world. Those are the only rules. Everything else is up to us. We have ultimate free will. Being authentic, in this sense and the sense that I am working with, means fully accepting one's own responsibility for their life. It means being a real person. This is where central point of what I've railing against for the past 3 months or so. We fill up our lives with so much other stuff. We constantly attempt to label ourselves or observe ourselves through the mirror that is the other person. This leaves us with the most liberating and the most terrifying conclusions possible. First, we are free to be whatever we want, and we are free to do whatever we went. That isn't to say there aren't consequences to our actions, but that we choose to avoid those consequences. I don't want to end up a pancake, but there is nothing keeping me from jumping off the building, except my will to continue existing. It actually takes life and turns it into an active, rather than a passive choice. Every moment, I am choosing to continue existing, than rather ending my existence. Now the terrifying part. The problem with free will is that we are responsible for everything we do. All of our actions, and essentially who we are, is because of us. Society didn't make me do it. My parents didn't make me do it. Obama didn't make me do it. Bush didn't make me do it. I did it. I'm the only one that could have done it, because I did it. It sounds redundant, but it is a significantly powerful statement. Sartre even goes on to say that when we seek advice, we seek from the person who we think will give us the answer we are already looking for. Choosing to not choose is also a choice. You can't win. You always have to make a decision and it is always up to you.