You have no choice but to be yourself.

from Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy page 167 fiction ~4 min read

‘Tell you everything?’ asked Varenka.

‘Everything, everything!’ Kitty repeated.

‘There’s nothing special, only that Mikhail Alexeevich’ – that was the painter’s name – ‘wanted to leave sooner, and now he doesn’t want to leave at all,’ Varenka said, smiling.

‘Well? Well?’ Kitty urged, giving Varenka a dark look.

‘Well, and for some reason Anna Pavlovna said he didn’t want to leave because you are here. Of course, it was inappropriate, but because of it, because of you, there was a quarrel. And you know how irritable these sick people are.’

Kitty, frowning still more, kept silent, and Varenka alone talked, trying to soothe and calm her and seeing the explosion coming – whether of tears or of words, she did not know.

‘So it’s better if you don’t go ... And you understand, you won’t be offended...’

‘It serves me right, it serves me right!’ Kitty began quickly, snatching the parasol out of Varenka’s hands and looking past her friend’s eyes.

Varenka wanted to smile, seeing her friend’s childish anger, but she was afraid of insulting her.

‘How does it serve you right? I don’t understand,’ she said.

‘It serves me right because it was all pretence, because it was all contrived and not from the heart. What did I have to do with some stranger? And it turned out that I caused a quarrel and that I did what nobody asked me to do. Because it was all pretence! pretence! pretence!...’

‘But what was the purpose of pretending?’ Varenka said softly.

‘Oh, how vile and stupid! There was no need at all .. . It was all pretence!...’ she said, opening and closing the parasol.

‘But for what purpose?’

‘So as to seem better to people, to myself, to God – to deceive everyone. No, I won’t fall into that any more! Be bad, but at least don’t be a liar, a deceiver!’

‘But who is a deceiver?’ Varenka said reproachfully. ‘You talk as if...’

But Kitty was having her fit of temper. She did not let her finish.

‘I’m not talking about you, not about you at all. You are perfection. Yes, yes, I know you’re perfection; but what’s there to do if I’m bad? This wouldn’t have happened if I weren’t bad. So let me be as I am, but I won’t pretend. What do I care about Anna Pavlovna! Let them live as they please, and me as I please. I can’t be different... And all this is not it, not it! ...’

‘What is not it?’ Varenka said in perplexity.

‘It’s all not it. I can only live by my heart, and you live by rules. I loved you simply, but you probably only so as to save me, to teach me!’

‘You’re unfair,’ said Varenka.

‘But I’m not talking about others, I’m talking about myself.’

Kitty!’ came her mother’s voice. ‘Come here, show Papa your corals.’

Kitty, with a proud look, not having made peace with her friend, took the little box of corals from the table and went to her mother.

‘What’s the matter? Why are you so red?’ her mother and father said in one voice. ‘Nothing,’ she replied. ‘I’ll come straight back.’ And she ran inside again.

‘She’s still here!’ she thought. ‘What shall I tell her? My God, what have I done, what have I said! Why did I offend her? What am I to do? What shall I tell her?’ thought Kitty, and she stopped by the door.

Varenka, her hat on and the parasol in her hands, was sitting at the table, examining the spring that Kitty had broken. She raised her head.

‘Varenka, forgive me, forgive me!’ Kitty whispered, coming up to her. ‘I didn’t know what I was saying. I...’

‘I really didn’t mean to upset you,’ Varenka said, smiling.

Peace was made. But with the arrival of her father that whole world in which Kitty had been living changed for her. She did not renounce all that she had learned, but she understood that she had deceived herself in thinking that she could be what she wished to be. It was as if she came to her senses; she felt all the difficulty of keeping herself, without pretence and boastfulness, on that level to which she had wished to rise; besides, she felt all the weight of that world of grief, sickness and dying people in which she had been living; the efforts she had made to force herself to love it seemed tormenting to her, and she wished all the sooner to go to the fresh air, to Russia, to Yergushovo, where, as she learned from a letter, her sister Dolly had already moved with the children.

But her love for Varenka did not weaken. As she was saying good–bye, Kitty begged her to come and see them in Russia.

‘I’ll come when you get married,’ said Varenka.

‘I’ll never get married.’

‘Well, then I’ll never come.’

‘Well, then I’ll get married only for that. Watch out, now, remember your promise!’ said Kitty.

The doctor’s predictions came true. Kitty returned home to Russia cured. She was not as carefree and gay as before, but she was at peace. Her Moscow griefs became memories.

—Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina, p. 167