Are you putting on a happy face in an environment that no longer motivates you? Do you feel you’re not able to be honest about your personal life at work? Are you starting to feel you’re in the wrong profession but unable to share this with anyone?

The longer you pretend to be fine when you’re really not, the more pain you’ll feel as a result.

Employee disengagement is a real epidemic, but it’s not always your employer’s fault. If you’re not bringing your whole self to work, you simply cannot be a happy, engaged employee.

If you want to bring your authentic self into the office, start with these five tips:

1. Be Vulnerable

People often refrain from offering their honest opinions or sharing bits of their personal lives for fear of being hurt. If you take this approach, you may only end up hurting yourself and contributing to your own unhappiness at work.

Try opening up a bit. See where it gets you. You may be pleasantly surprised by the response from your coworkers.

2. Take Professional Risks

Fear of failure holds most people back from growing. But what are you gaining by staying in your safe zone? Nothing ventured, nothing gained, right? What’s the worst that could happen? Will the company fall apart? No!

Take a chance, and ask for support if you need it along the way. When you take on new challenges, people will often be willing to assist you. They won’t expect you to be perfect the first time! Don’t be afraid to lean on other people as you take new steps forward.

3. Leave Your Comfort Zone on Occasion  

Is you current comfort zone really as comfortable as you can be at work? Probably not. In fact, your comfort zone is probably causing discomfort for your authentic self!

Push your boundaries. Let your real self out. Everyone around you will probably like that person even better than they already like you! If not, then maybe you’re not in the right place.

4. Have Difficult Conversations

The rest of your life still goes on while you’re at work. How can you expect to completely separate yourself from pressing matters in your personal life while in the office? You can’t, and you shouldn’t.

You may be apprehensive to open up about personal matters with coworkers, but you never know what might happen when you do. Your boss might be more supportive than you expect!

5. Move on if You Have to

If bringing your authentic self to work doesn’t make you happier – or even makes you less happy – then it may be time to move on. You should be working at a place where you feel comfortable being your real self.

Bringing your authentic self to work is about more than just your life in the office. It can have far-reaching benefits for all aspects of your life. Being honest about who you are in all contexts will have lasting positive effects for you both personally and professionally.

A version of this article originally appeared on the Atrium Staffing blog.

Michele Mavi is Atrium Staffing‘s resident career expert.

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