This entry in my Quotes series is about as epic as six words can be. The meaning from this potent pearl of philosophy is simple: don’t pretend to be something, just be it.
This may sound complicated to any sane person who’s lived more than a day or two in the real world, but it really isn’t that difficult to implement. There are certainly costs associated with being honest about who and what you are, but there are also costs associated with being dishonest about those same things.
But this particular quote goes way beyond addressing how you describe or represent yourself–it speaks to how you should behave, especially in those dark, quiet moments where you’re certain you could get away with doing something you probably shouldn’t.
The reason for this is profoundly simple: we get to make the world we live in. If you want to live in a world where people are more honest, or less honest, your every action plays an active role in bringing that world into existence.
We’ve all heard the refrain ‘Do as I say, not as I do,’ and with this quote from Socrates we receive a truly elegant rebuttal to that particularly poor idea.
We’re obviously not perfect, which is the very reason why we need such quotes and pearls of wisdom in order to keep us pointed in productive directions throughout our lives. So it’s not like we need to feel like failures for not ‘being as we wish to seem.’
But the next time you’re faced with the opportunity to ‘get away with something’ you probably shouldn’t try to get away with, remind yourself to be as you wish to seem.
The world–your world–will be a better place for it.