The Real You
Related posts: Find Your Strengths, Learn to be Self Aware, Know Yourself, Personalities Help the Family-a very brief audio
“This above all – To thine own self be true, and it must follow as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man.”
– Shakespeare, Hamlet
I’ve enjoyed being in Shakespeare country. He is the greatest playwright of all time. Did you know that Hamlet is being performed somewhere on earth as you read this? This one quote (above) is more profound and meaningful and yet not so easy.
I believe in authenticity, from-my-heart I really do. It’s just that how can you be true to yourself it you don’t know yourself. Authenticity means having the quality of being real, true, what others believe you to be. But first I must be true to myself. How can I do this if I still have parts of me that are a mystery even to me?
This is a hard one for me. As a tough old bird now I look back on some of my life experiences and realize that I lived by default because I didn’t know my own mind or maybe it was I didn’t have the courage of my convictions. Yet just the other day my Spiritual Director told me I was brave. I’m still chewing on that one.
When I was in college I studied theatre and loved it. I gravitated to drama and the arts like a fly on rice as we say in Texas. Every waking moment I was consumed with the play. It was what I did, what I knew, and what I was exceptionally good at. What were my plans after college my dad asked one day. Uh-oh. I had not considered that. Well maybe I’d dreamed about joining a professional group in Dallas. Dad said I would get a teaching certificate. Not my choice, but of course I did as he said. And of course father knew best.
One of the moments that keeps coming back around like a scratch on an old LP record is the moment I was about to walk down the aisle on my daddy’s arm to marry my first husband. I hesitated. I said, “I’m not sure.” To which my dad replied, “Come on we are going to walk down this aisle now.” And of course we did, I was married for ten-well maybe 8 and a half – good years, had three children in a thirty-seven month period and he left when the youngest was three-years-old.
Boy oh boy! I certainly didn’t know myself after that earthquake. I just hung on, grabbed whatever wasn’t shaking, and stumbled onward. No time for lots of self-reflection.
Years later I began to study personality types. My sister who is eight years my senior went with me to the training. She asked, “Well how did your personality profile come out?” When I told her, one of those – I’m about to have a life changing moment – occurred. She said, “Oh no. That is not you.” So for the next hour she had me retake the forty item profile, assisting me with each one. She knew me better than I knew myself and had been with me each step of my early years. We had shared a bedroom and I looked up to her. She was the one who taught me how to brush my teeth and wash my hair. She knew me and was certain something had gone seriously wrong with my self-concept. She was right. We learned the next day that it is possible for my particular birth-personality type to change if raised by or married to a strong personality of another sort. Boy did that answer a lot. Again I had lived, in my marriage, by default. I’d done what others expected of me-especially what my husband expected. Also what I thought and this is so important – what I thought others expected, a weakness of my personality type.
In the sixties as I was coming into adulthood and the hippies were about you might hear someone say, “I’m not going to college. I’m going to spend a few years to find myself.” Well it’s taken me an extraordinarily long time and I’m getting warmer. Personality studies have certainly helped me.
Shakespeare died 400 years ago May 3rd and yet he surely knew human nature that endures to this day.
Using his words-
“In my heart of hearts” (Hamlet) I will continue “Forever and a Day” (As You Like It) to be “As merry as the day is long.” (Much Ado About Nothing).
Additional Resources: Personality Principles, Enneagram
Gail holds a degree from Lamar University in Speech and a Master’s from the University of Texas. She was an educator in regular and special education for twenty years, finishing her professional career as a Braille teacher. She married Sam after raising three children as a single mother. In 2007 She founded SMORE for Women. SMORE is a nonprofit association whose goal is Single Moms, Overjoyed, Rejuvenated, & Empowered. She is a Certified Professional Coach and her stories have been publishedin several Christian books and magazines. Her book, Living Learning Loving, published in July 2015, is available for purchase on CreateSpace, Amazon, or Barnes & Noble online.
As I read this I had to stop myself from yelling aloud “QUIT TALKING ABOUT ME!”