I have a dad quote on my mind.
You know, one of those sayings that made you roll your eyes and say “I know, Dad,” but seems to haunt you as an adult.
My dad’s no English teacher, but this one comes from Shakespeare’s “Hamlet.”
“This above all: to thine own self be true”
As with anything Shakespeare, we’ve created many interpretations, some based on literary theory and others distorted through a modern-day lens.
When my dad says this line, I hear: know who you are and be true to that.
At the outset, who wouldn’t agree?
“To thine own self be true” has resonated with so many people that it’s even joined the infinity symbol and tribal band as a popular tattoo. What I thought of as a dad quote is getting inked on wrists and forearms, who knew?
While I’m not getting it tattooed on my body anytime soon (definitely not dad-approved for me), I love this message.
Well, one part of it.
The other part… I hate.
I’ll start with what I love.
In a world of expectations and preordained ideas of success and happiness, it’s hard to both know who you are and embrace it.
We can spend a lifetime without being forced or even encouraged to reflect on who we are.
I learned more about myself in the first year and a half out of school than I did during four years of college. Questioning whether I wanted to reply to a work email at 9pm was more meaningful than deciding between “jungle safari” or “Britney Spears” for the next theme party, as it turns out (though I still love a theme and recommend Britney hands down).
We all have to make these kinds of choices and then have the courage to live up to them.
This interpretation of “To thine own self be true” not only makes this point, it argues being true to yourself is your single most important mission.
You deserve to live a life in which you’re true to yourself.
I believe that, full stop.
That said… I do have a bone to pick.
I’ll share more on what that is tomorrow.
To being better without getting an inspirational quote tattoo,