It isn’t often I find myself quoting Shakespeare! After all, there isn’t a lot of it that I can recall, let alone use in an everyday conversation. Nonetheless, I’m going to quote him in this post, as I cannot think of a more appropriate way to start:
“To Thine Own Self Be True”
Have you heard this quote before? During this past week I started to think about people I have met (even for a fleeting moment) who seemed to be disingenuous. Looking right at you, their verbiage sounded more appropriate for a high school play, never mind a ‘real’ conversation.
I think you know what I mean. It’s that person who we might refer to as, ‘phony’, ‘fake’ ‘pretending’. After encountering a few of these people recently, it dawned on me that they were ‘acting’ their lives away. Who are they, really? What’s their motivation to be something other than what/who they true are?
Can you imagine if everyone shed their phony faces and allowed themselves (and us) to see who they are for REAL? I think it would be very interesting and perhaps downright shocking. Picture people you know or have encountered recently that acted in such a manner you knew they were providing a false face. Now picture that person removing the facade. What do you see now? Are they a vulnerable, insecure individual, only hoping their ‘pretend self’ will be more palatable for the world to accept, never mind themselves?
I was at a work ‘do’ once, when I spotted the biggest phony in the room. She was going to come up to me, shake my hand, and tell me how nice it was to see me. Then she would ask me for a favor; and, depending on how I answered, I’d either get more fake conversation, or I’d be dismissed by a, “Oh, I see so and so over by the sandwiches; have a nice evening”. Sure enough and on cue, I found myself once again wondering who she ‘really’ was. This time I decided to have a little fun with her falseness. I asked HER for a favor; well, I don’t think she could have exited stage left more quickly!
Back to the beginning of the post where Mr. Shakespeare provided such a profound statement for the ages. “To Thine Own Self Be True”; to me, this simply means being your authentic self, being real, being true to who you really are. It would be an entirely different existence if people stopped the act and showed the world (and themselves) their genuine selves! I honestly feel when people invent a mask to show others, it is because they don’t feel they would be accepted without it. We are the only ones who live in our own heads. If someone else doesn’t like the ‘real’ you, that says a lot more about them than it ever does about you.
Now mind you, I know there are times when we all have to show a certain face when warranted. For example, in our workplace we have to perhaps be seen with that ‘neutral’ face when really we want to show a, “What on earth do you mean by that?” face!
But I’m talking about those among us who never show who we really are to ourselves or to others. I think authenticity can equate true happiness if you allow yourself to shed the costume. It must be exhausting to be untrue to yourself, don’t you think? The energy it must take would be likened to an actor performing on a stage during every single waking moment!
Here’s another example of the fake-head from my own repertoire. I was at a gathering where I only knew a few people. One of the guests of honor went to each table to say hello, blah, blah, blah, and onto the next table. When it was our ‘turn’, this person gave the most phony, canned rehearsed speech ever. All of the responses were tied up with a smiley face while the eyes told me this was anything but a ‘smiley’ person. Cold and calculated, the words were dripping with extreme insincerity. All I could think about was, “Who are you, really?” This acting job of yours is clearly getting you nowhere fast.
I became aware this person is ‘always’ that way; in other words, they clearly never read Shakespeare! *grin*
So here’s to being true to ourselves, leave the phony faces at the stage door, and finding our authentic selves will do just fine, thank you!
What about you, do you know anyone who chooses to be untrue to themselves?