To Thine Own Self Be True

The following piece of advice appears in Hamlet, by William Shakespeare, written in the early 1600s:

In Hamlet, this advice is given by Polonius to his son, Laertes, as he is leaving home for university.  Polonius dispenses this advice because as his son leaves, he wishes his son to be able to make it on his own, find success and maintain his dignity.  Along those lines, he wishes his son to remember the lessons and characteristics instilled in him by his family.  He tells his son, “to thine own self be true,” which is to say to him, “be true to yourself and trust in your own ability and judgment.”  This is excellent advice, as self-expression and the satisfaction derived from it is one of the greatest truths in life.

It is interesting that this lesson was written so long ago.  The idea of self-expression and tolerance among those that do so seems to be relatively new, within the last half century or so.  To see it written nearly 400 years ago gives the concept a new meaning to me, as it seems to be intertwined with the human condition.  This means that being true to yourself is not so much something to remember or a privilege, but rather, a necessary function of being human and finding satisfaction and contentment within our own lives.