“Be exquisitely true to yourself… Be exquisitely true to yourself.”
It shows up again and again…this thought visiting me repeatedly.
“Why”, I finally asked? What’s the message here?
In examining the phrase I feel and hear that it’s subtly different from “be true to yourself”.
In all the 48 years I’ve been alive, I’d be rich if I had a nickel for each time I heard the phrase, “be true to yourself.” It shows up in all manner of places and contexts. Admit it, you have probably said it yourself.
The phrase stems from a famous quote in Shakespeare’s Hamlet. After doing some poking around, I found the following on literarydevices.net:
“Shakespeare has used this phrase in Act-I, Scene-III, lines 78-82 of his play, Hamlet. Polonius has spoken these words as a token of advice to his son, Laertes, at the time of his departure to Paris. He says:
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.
Farewell, my blessing season this in thee!
Scholars have spent a lot of time deciding what Shakespeare meant here. In the context of the play it could be a reminder to Laertes to be honest in his actions and relationships, that it is only if he is honest in these he can judge himself properly and that Laertes should think of his own benefit first and be true to it.
Today, the statement has evolved to where there is more of a live your truth, self empowerment vibe to the phrase. It’s become commonplace to hear this quote used when encouraging someone to choose autonomy and personal power.
I see the phrase a bit differently. The intuitive hit continues to show up for me, “Be exquisitely true to yourself.” What difference does this one word “Exquisitely” make? I decided to research the word’s meaning.
I found some good nuggets on dictionary.com. The bits that made my insides sing with resonance were:
- Of rare excellence of production or execution, as works of art or workmanship: the exquisite statues of the Renaissance.
- Keenly or delicately sensitive or responsive: an exquisite ear for music; an exquisite sensibility.
- Carefully sought out, chosen, ascertained, devised, etc.
- The Latin exquīsītus meticulous, early 15c., “carefully selected,” from Latin exquisitus “carefully sought out,” thus, “choice,”
- Of any thing (good or bad, torture as well as art) brought to a highly wrought condition, sometimes shading into disapproval.
“Be exquisitely true to yourself”. It evokes a different feeling in my body when I say it out loud.
Go ahead and try it. Can you hear or feel the distinction?
Being true to myself might mean, “I’m going to get that outfit because I want it so much!” That’s true, right? Yet, when applying the filter of exquisitely – extraordinarily fine, of rare excellence, execution, keenly, delicate, meticulous, and the concept of choice to being true to myself, it completely reshapes the meaning to me.
What’s different is the inclusion of awareness of the impact my choice can have on others. Whatever truth shows up has been meticulously and delicately refined and considered prior to executing. There has been no rushing here. Care is taken thinking about different scenarios that could result from exquisitely following my truth. Is this purchase feeding an impulse and in alignment with your values, or just the previous? Much thought and care is put into considering the consequences that may result from the act of being true to oneself.
This awareness of impact is an important part of being exquisitely true to yourself. It’s important to know that when you make a choice to do something different in order to be true to yourself the impact of your choice is greater than just you. Some people will be wildly excited for you and don’t expect everyone else involved to dance a jig and be happy that something in their life is changing, and they don’t have control over it.
Being straight with yourself and very aware of the reasons for your choice will be the stake you’ll hang on to when the ground beneath your feet becomes very unstable. When you have to face the people who disapprove or question your choices this is what will hold you on course. Because it is important to stay on course. To make a different choice is exhausting.
What is your exquisite truth, that if you don’t abide by it, it will continue to create upheaval and chaos all over your life? What truth inside you keeps poking you, demanding your attention and making you miserable if you ignore it?
If you have one of these, you’ll know. It’s the thing that has you hanging on to your safety every day with white knuckles and resenting every moment of it. It’s the thing you long for, the thing that calls to you again and again. You resist the urge to answer it, because it will catapult you out of your predictable life and zone of comfort.
I have one right now. My exquisite true self is the inflated beachball I talk about. It exhausts me trying to keep submerged, to hold it down. It’s not a matter of if it’s going to pop up, but rather, when. Will it be on my terms, or involuntarily? That remains to be seen. I am working hard to make sure that when it does pop up, I will be exquisitely true to myself, taking the time to be aware of the impact and following through anyway because it is the right thing for me to do.
I recently saw a quote that sums it all up perfectly,
“A lot of the conflict you have in your life exists simply because you’re not living in alignment; you’re not be being true to yourself.” ― Steve Maraboli