"To thine own self be true." William Shakespeare
I believe Shakespeare meant that we are to be true to our own interests first, and to help others second.
I find wisdom in the old playwright's words. Continually givung to others without giving to ourselves is a recipe for resentment. I believe the most generous of us take good care of themselves.
For me, to be true to thyself carries an additional meaning, having to do with finding and being grounded in our genuine self. It's so tempting to live mostly to gain or keep other's approval, or avoid criticism. Some of this is probably okay, but I believe a steady diet of this disconnects us from our true being.
Now some of you are thinking that I'm proposing a selfish way of living- but quite the contrary. It's my observation that the most selfish people are the least aware of themselves. And the most generous are the truest amongst us.
To live true to thyself I believe has something to do with living connected to your genuine self, and being aware of your desires, loves and hates. I don't know of a surer anchor to tether one's life than this. I think many of us fail to find satisfying lives because we fail to find work and relationships that support and further our true selves.
I recently got together with friends, and someone I hadn't met before joined us. As the evening went on I found myself with nothing to say. I was tempted to say something anyways, as I was concerned about what she might think of me. Fortunately, I caught myself and held my tongue, allowing myself to be quiet when I had nothing to say.
So be what you are! And if you're successful others might say about you, "what you see is what you get."