I devoured Ralph Waldo Emerson’s “Self-Reliance” in one sitting a few days ago and it has been in the forefront of my thoughts ever since. Please read if you haven’t already and let me know your thoughts. This is an absolute inspiration to me. Click the link below to read it online.
Here are some quotes from it that just punched me in the gut.
To believe your own thought, to believe that what is true for you in your private heart is true for all men, — that is genius.
There is a time in every man’s education when he arrives at the conviction that envy is ignorance; that imitation is suicide; that he must take himself for better, for worse, as his portion; that though the wide universe is full of good, no kernel of nourishing corn can come to him but through his toil bestowed on that plot of ground which is given to him to till.
We but half express ourselves, and are ashamed of that divine idea which each of us represents.
Trust thyself: every heart vibrates to that iron string.
Whoso would be a man must be a nonconformist. He who would gather immortal palms must not be hindered by the name of goodness, but must explore if it be goodness. Nothing is at last sacred but the integrity of your own mind. Absolve you to yourself, and you shall have the suffrage of the world.
I do not wish to expiate, but to live. My life is for itself and not for a spectacle. I much prefer that it should be of a lower strain, so it be genuine and equal, than that it should be glittering and unsteady. I wish it to be sound and sweet, and not to need diet and bleeding.
What I must do is all that concerns me, not what the people think. This rule, equally arduous in actual and in intellectual life, may serve for the whole distinction between greatness and meanness. It is the harder, because you will always find those who think they know what is your duty better than you know it. It is easy in the world to live after the world’s opinion; it is easy in solitude to live after our own; but the great man is he who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude.
When good is near you, when you have life in yourself, it is not by any known or accustomed way; you shall not discern the foot-prints of any other; you shall not see the face of man; you shall not hear any name;—— the way, the thought, the good, shall be wholly strange and new. It shall exclude example and experience.
The sinew and heart of man seem to be drawn out, and we are become timorous, desponding whimperers. We are afraid of truth, afraid of fortune, afraid of death, and afraid of each other.
Insist on yourself; never imitate.To be great is to be misunderstood.
Your genuine action will explain itself, and will explain your other genuine actions. Your conformity explains nothing.
Ralph Waldo Emerson