Tuesday, September 8, 2009

My take on Self-Reliance (with a little help from Emerson)

Self-reliance. What does it mean? What does it encompass? Self-reliance, to me, is more than just being able to provide for one's self. Self-Reliance is an ability to negotiate life without an intellectual or emotional dependence upon another person. Everyone has some modicum of reliance upon another person but their primary source of strength, power, determination, & et cetera must come from within. For example if one relies on their parents for support they will be disappointed because parents eventually pass away. Long before that day, reliance upon parents stifles important life lessons such as responsibility and maybe even integrity if the parents "take care" of their child's problems. If one relies on friends they will be let down. Friends come and go. That is the nature of humanity and life. People move, grow, start families, discover new hobbies and leave old hobbies behind. Some friends can be closer than your relatives. They will be able to lend you support but your self-reliance must come from within because they might not always be there. Another person people tend to rely on is their significant other be it a boyfriend, girlfriend, wife, husband, partner, et cetera. This is also dangerous. People can become engrossed in their lives. They can become the center of our life. What happens when they are given that role? Their life becomes your life. You have now lost your sense of self and your self-reliance is weakened. Sure you can handle life but if that person was gone would you fall apart? I'm not talking about being able to do the laundry, sew a button, change the oil in the car, or fix a leaky faucet. If your significant other was gone would you be able to survive life? Are you able to navigate the happenings, milestones, or phenomena of life on your own?

Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote an essay titled "Self-Reliance" and it begins with this quote: Ne te quaesiveris extra (Do not search outside yourself). It's an amazing essay and should be on your list of things to read and reread. Self-reliance is being able to handle and understand your life without someone dictating to you how to live. Direction and advice should be sought but ultimately it is within you to carry out that action or follow that direction. No one else can live life for you. Self-reliance, therefore, requires that one has the inner strength and fortitude to follow their path.

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