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Garden of Truth

If knowledge power, then self-knowledge is a weapon. Without using it conscientiously, this tool of cultivation probably turns its blade toward others or even yourself. Put to its true use, self-knowledge can be a great tool for personal and interpersonal growth.

Without being truthful, knowledge about yourself poses the risk of justifying crippling or destructive behaviors. You must be willing to face your true self, recognizing exactly what you are, and then honestly share that with others. The personal struggle with sharing about yourself is hiding. This can happen when you cannot face what you do not like about yourself, desperately denying or fleeing the blemishes that mark every one of us as human. You cannot improve your natural faults and grow without acknowledging them.

Understandably, we struggle to see the faults in ourselves. Knowing best our own thoughts and motivations, everything fits, even the faults, even the harm we cause ourselves and all around us – until someone else speaks up. Faults become most apparent when someone familiar and trusted speaks up to say, ‘That’s not right.’ Blunt honesty can cut, so use tact gently to prune what has wilted in your relationships. Dumbledore does well to identify the first truth: “It takes a great deal more [courage] to stand up to your friends,” and pro- fess to them the truth about themselves they don’t want to face.

We need truth to find and to know ourselves, facing the problems that really do exist. Truth opens our eyes and opens the possibility for growth. Openness, however, depends on moderation. Sharing too much can embarrass yourself and others; being too vocal about others just makes you obnoxious. Look for what they need and tailor your help to suit that need. Be open to yourself about who you are or what you can give, openly respond to how others present themselves (praise the good and admit the bad), and let communication move freely and truthfully.

When you acknowledge yourself and what you do naturally, you can see what really makes you special – this is true self-knowledge. Your interests, your knowledge, and your perspective are needed because no one else has these. That makes them worth sharing, so don’t hide them! Let your true passion shine out and touch the lives of others. We rely on everyone else to develop a culture of mutual growth and to cultivate gifted and compassionate people. Carleton’s faculty can help us thrive as students, but no one else impacts our society like we do. As peers in our community, it is our mission to help each other thrive as human beings.

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