Monday, December 10, 2007


"Be true to yourself." What does that even mean?


Lee Y said...

It doesn’t mean anything. It’s just fluff or pointless drivel that people say to one another. I’ve done a little research and have found the origins of this saying have their roots in the public school systems of the American Midwest. The earliest documented accounts of this saying being written are in high school yearbooks. “Be true to yourself” also reached the height of popularity the same time that “never change” came into fashion.

Hope this helps.


Sarah said...

nice Lee.

I had the same thought!

:::: Travis Keller :::: said...

in this comment is there some reflection of an appeal to humanism?

John said...

I like it better than, "be false to yourself" (Of course that doesn't go well in a yearbook anyway). It probably means something to the effect of "do what you want to do". If it were a suggestion about personal honesty it might be worth while but I don't think that's the intention.

B.H.W.Y (Be Honest With Yourself) Don't stay the same (or you'll be a really immature 50 year old).



Anonymous said...

i was about to write something about a phrase on the back of a senior picture along with 'never change', but I see that Lee has already wrote that which i wanted to contribute.

here's to you, mr. you-said-what-i-was-going-to-say-before-me.

dang it.

Wesleyan Psychologist said...

I find this phrase to be a mixture of cheesiness and profundity...that is, on the one hand it has become a yearbook cliche that reflects our focus on our interior, private feelings and obsession with our "selves". Yet, this cliche is also at the bottom of much decision-making in our lives ("That just does or doesn't feel right")

On the other hand, I wonder if at it's best it can remind us that authenticity matters. How many times have I not said what I am thinking/feeling out of fear or out of a desire to be accepted? There seems to need to be a balance between focusing solely on myself and what I want and feel and being authentic or "true" in who I am...but of course it is just a phrase in need of a larger narrative to make sense out of it.

PK said...

"Be true to yourself" could have a profound message when interpreted from a different perspective.

"Don't lie to yourself" or don't try to make something mean what it was not meant to mean.

Or-- do not violate your conscience. Perhaps be true/loyal to your convictions.

Or, does it mean to "take care of yourself" and to heck with caring for others?

What did the first person intend who used the phrase and has its repeated use changed the original meaning/thought?

Perhaps the misinterpretation is now accepted as the original thought?

Lee is probably right that most people use it as pointless drivel.

So, I close with -- be resolved to be truthful.

:::: Travis Keller :::: said...

dad, you rock.

Daniel C. said...

I think it comes maybe from Shakesphere. To thine own self be true is somewhere in something he wrote. Americans just stole it and modernized the phrasing and took credit for it.

Kelli said...

Hi Travis.
I don't have much input about your most recent most, but I just found your site (through deweber) and I wanted to say hello. Give my greetings to your girls for me. Maybe I'll run into you the next time I'm in the Vern.
Kelli (Shearron) Blinn

Matthew 5:38-48, NASB

"You have heard that it was said, 'An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.' But I say to you, do not resist an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. If anyone want to sue you and take your shirt, let him have your coat also. Whoever forces you to go one mile, go with him two. Give to him who asks of you, and do not turn away from him who wants to borrow from you. You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? If you greet only you brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect."