Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Raised to follow the herd

Every time I've heard the Shakespearean quote, "To thine own self be true", I never felt like whoa, now that's a pearl of wisdom. When I graduated from high school, some people had even used that quote in their yearbook entry. Again I was uninspired.
About a year and a half ago, a senior person in my company was leaving a division just when I was starting. I had a lot of respect for him and felt sad to see him go. He gave me these parting words as advice, "Be true to yourself." He gave some examples of what he meant but again I wasn't moved by it. I felt like he was making a big deal about sharing a cliche.
Recently, something happened at work that was weighing me down. I felt like I had to speak up even though it was very difficult for me to do so because it would mean contradicting my boss and other superiors. I reasoned and rationalized why it might be best to stay quiet - it's lose lose, they'll only think less of me and nothing will come of it; I won't be able to change their minds; no one likes to be corrected. But I felt so strongly about the situation that I eventually worked up the guts to speak up. I had to make my case over email since everyone was out of the office. After I sent the message, I prepared myself for the worse. It's nerve wracking to send an email, to hang myself out there, not knowing if someone agrees with you, rejects your ideas or whatnot along with not knowing when you might get a response or not. And to my surprise, I quickly got positive results - my boss and others agreed with my reasoning to revert the decision.
And then something powerful dawned on me; I was true to myself. I couldn't have lived with myself if I didn't say something. But by the same token, it would have been so easy to do nothing. I'm so proud of myself for being true. I hope this trend continues, having the courage to be myself despite whatever fears, real or perceived.

No comments: