Emerson’s Self-Reliance

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“The power which resides in him is new in nature, and none but he knows what that is which he can do, nor does he know until he has tried” (Emerson), said Emerson in his most famous work known as, Self Reliance, published in 1841. This famous transcendentalist philosopher and essayist expressed one of his most important themes: the need for individuals to follow their own ideas and instincts. Trust and confidence in one’s self is described as being of the most important aspects of human nature. Not caring about what other’s think or how they may judge or misunderstand someone, is the greatest virtue a person can have.

The quote describes one of the major themes we still use today: You’ll never know unless you try. Emerson is expressing this common theme in greater words, by stating that the power of an individual will never be known unless he tries to use it. Never hold back the things you can do. Show the world what you can do, and do not care how others will respond.

Embarrassment seems to be the greatest barrier in the way of expression and confidence amongst all individuals. We are all afraid of doing things that may create a negative or judged response from others. Why do we care so much? Did we care so much when we were younger? Or do we gain these negative assumptions of not doing embarrassing things as we grow?

No individual should have to hide the power God gave them. One’s life should not be controlled by the way others view them. If we continue to think this way, will it ever stop? Will we continue to live in fear, shame, and discomfort?

As Emerson strongly believes, individuals should trust themselves and their instincts. Forget the people surrounding you, and just focus on yourself for once. Express the power within yourself, and forget the responses you may receive.

-Leena


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