Editor’s Note: The DC Service Corps class of 2021-2022 introduces themselves through personal reflection on what matters to them. Grace Kueber serves as a Protection Counselor at the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. Today, she reflects on the importance of authenticity. 

I used to forget to not put myself in a box. At what age, I wonder, had I become hesitant of my own potential. I was so afraid I would regret moving forward that I simply became stagnant. I looked at every decision I made with the promise of failure. By the time the pandemic happened, I had made myself so small, the box was the perfect fit. Then the pandemic happened and the opportunity to be home revitalized me. There was no pressure to be perfect, or unique—no expectations. There was no pressure to create a persona in order to be loved. It was liberating being surrounded by that deep-rooted and continual love. While I was home, I was able to unearth my authentic self and be proud of it.

As I prepared to begin my journey in D.C., I was worried I’d lose myself trying to live up to expectations. I’d forget why I should push myself and explore the boundaries of my comfort zone. Despite anxieties that came with this big decision, my family always reminded me why I should be confident. They reminded me to lean on my strengths and abilities, to be courageous and persistent. 

Since being here, I have had the opportunity to learn from people who have different talents than I do. When people feel they can be their most authentic self. we evolve as a community. I used to compare myself to people around me. “Comparison is the greatest thief of joy,” is something my mom used to remind me. As I get older, I am trying to utilize another’s strengths for personal growth. Living in the Casa, my authentic self is always developing alongside my housemates. 

Be proud of the person you are. It is important to recognize how capable you are and the strength and resilience that you have within. Love your true self because no persona you create will be more powerful than you are. “Authenticity is freedom from the illusion of fear and alignment to the reality of love.”

Reflection: How are you going to support someone to be their true and authentic self?