To Thine Ownself Be True

The title is a line from Shakespeare’s Hamlet, act 1 scene 3. I do love a good Willy Shakes play and prose. I also love the wisdom in this quote. Throughout the tumultuous portions of my life, I ignored my own inner voice and wound up worse for it.

To thine ownself be true poster quote

As I strive to become an updated version of myself, I have fallen into familiar patterns from my past long ago. A time when my thoughts weren’t clear and my heart was troubled. Ignoring that small inner voice lead me down a path of self-destruction by overshadowing myself, and leaning into codependent relationships.

Speeding forward, without thinking of the outcomes, was a common theme of my youth. And now, I find myself making those same mistakes. I got carried away, I thought I was older and hopefully wiser, but here I am. I know I can’t do that anymore, even as much as I want to feel young and alive again. I also want to be responsible and secure. Those things seem to be at odds.

I have had to step back, step away, look inward, and ask myself some hard questions about who I am, what I want, and where I want to be in my life. I have to remind myself that there is nothing wrong with finding those answers before I press forward. Romantic love isn’t the goal for my life. That still, small voice inside me says there is more. Am I listening?

Take the time to listen to what that small, still voice is telling you. Quiet all the chatter, all the outside noise, just listen.

It’s uncomfortable, it’s hard to sit in silence and listen. I forget that prayer isn’t supposed to be a one-way street, with me lifting up a litany of needs or wants. God gave me two ears to listen twice as much as I talk for a reason.

What I am finding is the little things that bother me, are telling me something. My soul feels the uncomfortable places down deep and sends up red flags that require my attention.

The things that bother me aren’t the fault of the other person. They are who they are. I am not here to force change on anyone, just as I don’t want anyone to force change on me. Change happens, good or bad, it is inevitable. Who I was 10 years ago is not the person I am today, nor will the person I am in 10 years be the same as today.

What troubles my soul is what steals my joy and by contrast what brings me joy. I have to weigh those costs. I can’t hold close to that which robs my joy. I have fought a hard, lifelong battle to be joyful. I can’t settle for less. I can’t settle for less because someone else wants or needs me to. I can’t settle for less even though it might hurt someone else.

If I settle for less it is hurting me. If I give, and lose myself, what have I gained? I refuse to become a shell of who I am to fit into a mold I don’t want. I won’t do that. I won’t let my joy be stripped away slowly, for anyone. Lifting someone up while you are drowning, doesn’t give you life, in most cases, it drowns both of you.

You may ask, what strips the joy from me? What keeps me from being true to myself? While that list is an ongoing learning curve, I have found that I do it to myself. Most of the time I don’t realize it until much later. As the saying goes, hindsight is 20/20.

It’s that thing I should have said and didn’t because I didn’t want to come off as nagging, bit**y, angry, upset, or whatever.

It is letting things slide, to avoid a tirade or an uncomfortable conversation.

It is not saying what I really mean because I am saving someone’s feelings.

It is knowing something doesn’t feel right and remaining quiet.

It is being something I detest, passive-aggressive.

When I do these things, suddenly I look in the mirror and I don’t like the person I am becoming.

I strive to be a person who is true, and honest, and whole. I need that for myself. I may never get there, but I’m trying. I have gone from being a “we” to just “me.” I think I was good at being a “we.” Now, I have to become good at being a “me.” Finding me. Liking me. Loving me. All those take work. It is not a straight path.

At first, I thought a romantic relationship was what I needed to be valuable. I am finding out I have been valuable all along and I don’t need a relationship to define me or what I want out of life.

It is not about deserving more or wanting more, it’s about being true to who I am and who I want to be. It feels selfish, maybe because I have never made a conscious decision to stand for what I need to feel whole. It’s about maintaining my independence and not defining myself through a relationship. I am finding that I need space.

I have spent much of the last few years feeling invisible. I’ve been longing to be seen, to feel attractive, to connect and feel alive again, to have deep conversations that connect me to a person and make me feel like someone understands. It is a powerful thing when someone listens and connects. I think everyone needs that on some level. I am learning that level doesn’t have to be romantic. I am blessed to have a great tribe of friends and people who love me and pour into my life on so many levels.

Romance is a great and wonderful thing, but it is not what I need right now. And, that’s ok.