You can really only find your authentic self by getting completely away from the mimetic treadmill
Russell, I read all of your posts with great interest because they're thought provoking and also because I'm your Dad and am interested in knowing what's on your mind. This is the first one I've responded to from within your blog because I think some additional things need to be said. If you are saying that the only way to find your authentic self is to be alone, I think that's not correct. Humans are social animals. We need people to relate to, and those that are close to us help sculpt us as people. If we're with the right people, they bring out the best in us. Being with the wrong person can bring out the worst in us just as being alone for an extended period can bring on dark thoughts but those dark thoughts are just as much a part of our authentic self as the cheerful and kind thoughts you have when you're with someone you love. And, our "authentic self" changes over time as we gain life experience and allow those who we live with to imprint themselves on us.
What is your "authentic self" may actually be the wrong question to ask because it is not very precise. The right question I think is "what is true." And, sometimes it's better for those that know you best to tell you what's true about you. I say that you are kind, you are patient, you are an outstanding teacher, you love your family, you are loyal and expect loyalty, you are disciplined, you are smart, you are discerning about the media that you expose yourself to, you are fearless about trying new things, you like to learn, you take pride in your accomplishments and the accomplishments of those you are close to. You are a champion of those you love. To sum up, and this is quite subjective on my part, you are "a good man."