“What lies behind us and what lies before us are small matters compared to what lies within us.”
-Ralph Waldo Emerson
Self-Reliance, one of Ralph Waldo Emerson’s best known pieces of work, is a very thought provoking piece of literature. It is not put together like most other “great” pieces of literature, but instead is just a compilation of all his thoughts recorded into a journal throughout 15 years. It is actually quite often referred to as an expression of his individuality.
Reading Self-Reliance made me feel a sense of empowerment. Emerson’s whole motto of trusting your own intuition and resisting the limitations of conventional thought is what I try to live my life by every day. Way to often you read about people doing horrible things to themselves in order to fit into the status quo. Why not just be yourself? Trust that you are the best person you can possibly be and accept that it was intended to be that way. Individuality is God given.
Without individuality, there would be no competition, no self-expression, no invention and no hope. Don’t worry about what society thinks, it is set up to bring you down. Society is the greatest conspiracy against the man-hood of every single one of its members. It loves homes and customs more than it loves inventors and creators. Be that inventor. Be that creator. Express your thoughts, because thoughts are universal and what is true for us as individuals is true for all men. Conformity is not the greatest virtue, self-reliance is.
The most important thing is to always remain truthful to yourself and others. As Emerson said, “truth is handsomer that the pretense of love.” Just remember, life should be lived for you and not for others to speculate. Also only be concerned with what you must do to better yourself and not what others think. This is the greatest distinction between greatness and smallness. To be great is to be misunderstood.