γνῶθι σεαυτόν: Know Thyself

By Carolyn Shields, sunburned

Plato. Ready for this?

So there's a saying of Delphi that is "know thyself" which can be found in Plato's dialogues. In one of these dialogues, this guy Charmides uses this phrase to remind people of their place before entering the temple, and in the dialogue Philebus, Socrates claims we look like fools when we try to understand what is outside of us before we understand what is within. Socrates explores this self-inquiry more in depth, about how we may gain knowledge of ourselves.

And I answer with: by going on a coffee date with yourself one afternoon.

Growing up, I always dreamed that there would be a computer that I would type a question into, like "What's my favorite color/food?" because oftentimes, I never knew the answers to these basic questions. But it would supply me with my answer.

And now, at age twenty-two, I realized three things: 1, that this computer has yet to be made, 2, this idea came from the Disney channel original movie Smart House, and Pat still scares me*, but 3, I still don't know myself very well. College however is a time of great self discovery, and I guarantee you will leave as a different woman than the one that entered. St. Teresa of Avila wrote in 'Interior Castle:'

It is no small pity, and should cause us no little shame, that, through our own fault, we do not understand ourselves, or know who we are. Would it not be a sign of great ignorance, my daughters, if a person were asked who he was, or from what country he came? Though that is great stupidity, our own is incomparably greater if we make no attempt to discover what we are, and only know that we are living in these bodies, and have a vague idea, because we have heard it and because our Faith tells us so, that we possess souls.

Womenfolk, I think it's terribly important to spend time with ourselves. We've heard the phrase "you are your worst critic" and "no one knows you better than yourself."  I'm not asking you to make a personal retreat to explore your soul. I'm literally just proposing that you put aside a few hours one afternoon and get to know yourself again. I realized that my go-to response for my favorite book is actually a book that I can't ever see myself reading again.

So.

Who are you? Where have you been? And ask yourself...

  • What are your top three favorite books?

  • What are your top three favorite bands?

  • What are your top three favorite movies?

  • Who is your favorite author?

  • What is your biggest fear?

  • What’s your favorite animal?

  • Who’s your favorite president?

  • What’s your favorite flower?

  • What’s your favorite season?

  • What's the saddest moment of your life?

  • What is your favorite memory?

  • Who is your hero?

  • What’s your favorite scripture passage?

  • What’s your favorite desert?

  • Who is your favorite saint?

  • What’s your favorite food?

  • Who is your favorite poet?

  • What’s your favorite beer?

  • When were you the most frightened?

  • What is your favorite city?

  • Who’s your favorite actor?

  • As of right now, who will be your bridesmaids?

  • What are words you most long to hear?

  • What’s your favorite mythological creature?

  • What’s your favorite sound?

  • What are three of your quirks?

  • If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?

*Smart House was made in 1999. We are old.