“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 will go over what Emerson thought it was to be self-reliant, what I think about his essay, and what it actually means to be self-reliant (if self-reliance is even possible).
“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 or for worse as his portion…” In this quote, I recognize envy as a weakness of mine. I think that everyone has the experience of being envious or jealous. For instance, I myself feel envious quite often. I am always jealous of the prettier girl, the skinnier girl, the person with better grades, or the person who has more friends. In the moment, I always let envy swallow me up, and I start to base the way I live off of that. After reading “Self-Reliance,” I have been in the act of prying envy’s clenched jaws open, and escaping from that, which controls my life. I find that I can use envy positively, and make myself strive to do better, and also appreciate what I...
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...er, the middle, and the lower classes. The rich may live in nice houses, with fancy cars, and probably have some political power, or some power over other people in general. The middle class may also live in nice houses, but maybe can’t afford the fancy car, or the expensive clothing. The lower class might live in rental housing in a not-so-good neighborhood, ride public transportation or have an old, or no car, may rely on government assistance for food or healthcare and acquires clothes through donations or second-hand shops. Then the wave moves on, and the water is still there. I think that this represents the fact that at the end, we are all people.
The essay “Self-Reliance” has really helped me decide “Am I or am I not?” It has helped me see my “inner light” and now I strive to do better, and to reach that unattainable goal of finding my aboriginal self.
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