– by Brendan Reid, Editor –
“To thine own self be true.”
A phrase likely written in passing, Shakespeare could not have known the following these words would inspire. They have appeared on legions of bodies as tattoos, and over countless sunset pictures in ornate script. The words are so overused they have evolved into cliché, and have all but lost their meaning in the modern consciousness.
But if you dig deep enough, the meaning remains, and is as potent today as it has always been.
Being truthful to oneself is all about honesty. You cannot live a happy life by doing things you do not believe in, or by following the wills of others before your own. Finding independence is difficult for every person. From the moment of your birth, influencers surround you, chief among them being your parents. Their upbringing and ideals reflect on you, and the person you grow up to be is greatly shaped by this relationship (or lack thereof).
As you reach adolescence, some autonomy begins to set in. Your childhood dependency begins to wane, and you start to discover what you truly enjoy. But still, influencers remain. Friends may urge you to become someone you are not, and chances are you will fall in love. When you do, the needs of the other person may become more important than your own, and you could act in ways that are dishonest to yourself.
These experiences are a natural part of growing up. Learning the negative consequences of internal dishonesty opens your mind to the truth: you will never be happy if you ignore the things you desire.
Achieving what you want is a task much easier said than done. It requires work and perseverance. It requires iron resolve, even when the world seems constantly against you. Sometimes, it requires distancing yourself from the people you care about. Sometimes, it requires going against the advice of your parents, or doing something that seems financially irresponsible.
If you close off the noise of other people’s opinions and expectations, you will see what you truly want. If you silence the buzz of uncertainty that vibrates within yourself, you will be able to achieve what those desires. If you do not act on what you know is right, you will forever go through life wondering what could have been.
When you evaluate your life situation, and find something you do not like, there is always a way to fix it. Such a fix may require a great deal of work, and may go against years of habit formation. But a change can be made, so long as you are resolute, honest with yourself, and listen to your desires. If there is something you truly want, you shall make it so, no matter the obstacles in your way.
The only person that matters is you. It may seem a selfish outlook, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. Internal honesty results in outward contentment. The energy exuded by the inwardly honest person is one of self-assurance and confidence, and inspires all those around them. When you live your life honestly, the rest of world notices, and this instigates a cycle of positivity. So much unneeded misery is perpetuated by people living dishonest lives. By breaking this pattern, you can be an example to those who need it most, and can help others find happiness simply by finding your own.
There are many who would seek to sabotage your personal journey, intentionally or otherwise. Those who suffer rarely wish to do so alone, and can draw you back into old patterns of negativity. You must refute this. Even those you consider friends can be the root of the problem, and can prompt you to act in ways that are internally dishonest.
More often then not, you are your own worst enemy. When times gets tough, it’s easy to fall back on familiar crutches, and lapse back into old habits. If these things are causing you harm, you must refuse them. You must find the lifestyle that is healthiest, most productive, and brings you the most joy, and then pursue it relentlessly. You must not give in to mediocrity, for it truly satisfies no one, and too much of it can make it seem normal. Such is not the case. Your potential waits for you at all times, and can be achieved at any moment. But first you must reach, and reach with all your might.
All of this sounds easy on paper. It always does. But no matter your outlook or upbringing, the truth is universal. You can only be happy if you are honest with yourself, find the things you love to do, and achieve them. Such actions give life purpose, and deny the negativities that seem to inherently surround us. Living how you choose requires work, and is rarely a straightforward task. But if you put your head down, grind onward, and follow but one opinion and one desire, then the world will forever be at your mercy.
Brendan is an avid gamer and music enthusiast. He can often be found hiking through the woods, looking for reckless adventures to embark on.