Authentic Self

What am I to be?

To be or not to be. 

To thine own self be true. 

Any or all of these would be helpful quotes if only I could figure out who I am. I still don’t even know what I want to do when I grow up. At 46, that’s a bit of an issue – the growing up part, that is. It’s not that I’m not a grownup, it’s just that I’m not exactly through with growing up. 

My eldest observed the other day that I’m going through a late form of teenage rebellion. She’s not wrong. In the past few years, I’ve gotten two tattoos, put purple streaks into my (gray) hair, and have defied my mother’s wishes more times than I can count.

What I’m left believing is this: 

“What I must do is all that concerns me, not what people think. This rule,equally arduous in actual and intellectual life, may serve for the whole distinction between greatness and meanness. It is the harder, because you will always find those who think they know what is your duty better than you know it. It is easy in the world to live after the world’s opinion; it is easy in solitude to live after our own; but the great man is he who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude.”

– Ralph Waldo Emerson

I first read this when I was a teenager. It’s taken me decades to start living it. In the end, the only person I need to please is myself. I can provide my family with unconditional love while still having my own opinions and letting them have theirs. Life is not an either/or venture.

The only way I’m going to be satisfied is to go with my gut and live my own life. It may be far from perfect, but it’s all that I have.

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