This above all: to thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.
This famous quote when Polonius speaks to his son Laertes in Shakespeare’s Hamlet is one of my all time favorites. I have long grown up with the belief that actions speak louder than words. That a man is only as good as his word, so if his word is no good, than by default, neither is he. But this quote takes it many steps further and to me at least, is one of my personal creeds by which to live.
Some people think this quote means to be selfish and do as you wish as long as you get yours. I see it very differently. To first glean the true meaning of the phrase, you must first look at it’s origin. Hamlet’s Polonius also gave us the famous quote about “Never a borrower or lender be” and that indeed was part of the original meaning of being true to yourself as well. Polonius is instructing his son to take care of himself by being careful with his actions and words. To be an honest man true to his word but also be aware of what actions are in his best interest. Do not engage in activities which are disadvantageous or disingenuous.
This quote seems to mean that you must look after and take care of yourself if you want to be able to take care of anyone else.
Yes, Shakespeare was quite wise when picking out themes, as taking care of ones self and being honest are still two very relevant topics in this day and age.
When you are honest with yourself and follow what you know to be right, then you will lead an honest and authentic life. People who lie and cheat to get what they want from others are a dime a dozen. There is nothing special about them at all. But someone who follows a sense of integrity, even when it’s not popular? Even when it’s hard? That is someone special, that is someone who you want to have in your life.
Those people who lie and cheat, they know what they do is wrong. Why do they do it? Because they are not strong enough to do the right thing, to be true to themselves, and thus be not be false to others. Because if they haven’t the strength to look themselves in the mirror and be honest, how could they be honest with anyone else? They say charity begins at home, well so does honesty. And trust me, if they can’t even be true to themselves, you don’t want them. Run, run like the wind.
I am no saint. Let’s face it, we had to be judged by what we did in our 20’s, most of us wouldn’t leave the house. We have all done stupid things, made errors in judgment. I have done things for which I am ashamed. But in everything I have done, both good and bad, I have always been honest with myself. And I have never done anything just to be malicious. I have always been able to my head high, even when it was not easy, even when others were hurt and angry.
But if you live your life authentically, if you are true to yourself, then you will always be able to hold your head high. And you will always have respect. If you are selfish and you lie and hurt people? You will lose respect because word will get around. Just ask my last ex boyfriend, who, after he lied and cheated on this girl, found out just how much respect he would loose when his friends and family found out what he had done.
Take care with your actions and your words. Live a life of which you can be proud. And to thine own self be true. And besides, you never know just who might be driving the Karma bus…