On Self-Reliance: Emerson Essay
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On “Self-Reliance:” Emerson
“Trust thyself: every heart vibrates to that iron string”
--Ralph Waldo Emerson
“To believe in your own thought, to believe that what is true for you in your private heart is true for all men—that is genius.” This quote is a summary of what Emerson, as well as the Transcendentalists of the time, believed in. Emerson encompasses a lot of different ideas in his essay “Self-Reliance.” He writes about a man’s genius, self-expression, conformity, society, virtues, man’s nature, and what it actually is to be self-reliant. So what does it mean to be self-reliant? Can we truly be self-reliant? Or do we have to rely on other people in order to live our lives happily and healthfully? In this essay, I…show more content…
As an example, I know that I am sometimes embarrassed about my ideas, or think that they aren’t good enough. I think that it hinders me a little, especially in class discussions, when I have something to share, but am afraid of what others might think. That’s why Emerson says, “Trust thyself: every heart vibrates to that iron string.” “In every work of genius, we recognize our own rejected thoughts.” This seems very prominent in my life, and mostly in school. Just like when I think of an idea for a project, and put it to the back of my mind because I think that it’s stupid. The next thing I know, someone else did the same thing that I thought of, and it turned out brilliant! “None but he knows what that is which he can do, nor does he know until he has tried.”
“Whoso would be a man, must be a non conformist.” This is the ability to be your own master, free from influences of society, and of other people. “My life is for itself and not for a spectacle.” I completely agree with that statement, but I am somewhat hypocritical in that sense. Although others might be a part of your life, it doesn’t mean that they have to run it. Before I make criticisms of other people, I have to criticize myself. I truly enjoy having other people involved with my life, and sometimes I try to make it a spectacle on purpose, for attention. I complain, brag, over
The Disapproval of the World
“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” — Emerson
“Society everywhere is in conspiracy against the manhood of every one of its members. Society is a joint-stock company, in which the members agree, for the better securing of his bread to each shareholder, to surrender the liberty and culture of the eater.”
“The virtue in most request is conformity. Self-reliance is its aversion. It loves not realities and creators, but names and customs.”
Society will try to make you conform. People are more comfortable with what they are familiar with. They will tell you what you should be or what you can’t do. Don’t conform, or else you will lose your soul. You will lose your originality and creativity.
“Nothing is at last sacred but the integrity of your own mind,” Emerson wrote. “No law can be sacred to me but that of my nature. Good and bad are but names very readily transferable to that or this; the only right is what is after my constitution; the only wrong what is against it,” he added. Rely on yourself.
You think you cannot change the world? Many who did thought so, too. And then they just did it anyway.
Conformity, however, will not lead to greatness. Conformity “scatters your force.” Conformity turns your true expression into mediocrity.
If you join a crowd, be careful. They will lock you into one perspective or set of beliefs that may blind you to the truth.
You do not exist to please others. You are here to live. And you don’t need anyone’s approval for that.
When you are alone, it is easy to be yourself. But keeping your solitary independence when among others is much more difficult.
Trust yourself. Don’t concern yourself with what you said in the past. Set yourself free. Learn and grow every day. If you always try to be consistent, you will block that new creation that is trying to come out of you.
And if you are misunderstood, so be it. All great souls have been misunderstood. At least you had the courage to be the architect of your own life, and see the world through your own honest eyes.
Defy the status quo. Heroes of the past stayed true to themselves. They took action against popular resistance. Therefore, be indifferent to circumstances, opinions or authority.
Don’t be afraid. Stand for who you are. Stand for something.
Extraordinary people often began as ordinary people. But they decided to take matters into their own hands. They broke free of conformity.
You don’t need to rely on dogmas. You don’t need to rely on anyone telling you what is that you want. Instead of quoting someone of the past, say boldly what you perceive now. “If we live truly, we shall see truly,” wrote Emerson.
Don’t follow anyone else’s path. Create your own path.
Most people are passive. They lack purpose and complain. Few people have guts and character. Why?
These people conform. And by conforming they lose their originality. They fear failure. That is the wrong attitude. Embrace failure.