Continuing our discussion of “Self-Reliance” by Ralph Waldo Emerson.
“Let a man then know his worth, and keep things under his feet. Let him not peep or steal, or skulk up and down with the air of a charity-boy, a bastard, or an interloper, in the world which exists for him. But the man in the street, finding no worth in himself which corresponds to the force which built a tower or sculptured a marble god, feels poor when he looks on these. To him a palace, a statue, or a costly book have an alien and forbidding air, much like a gay equipage, and seem to say like that, ‘Who are you, Sir?’ Yet they all are his, suitors for his notice, petitioners to his faculties that they will come out and take possession. The picture waits for my verdict: it is not to command me, but I am to settle its claims to praise. That popular fable of the sot who was picked up dead drunk in the street, carried to the duke’s house, washed and dressed and laid in the duke’s bed, and, on his waking, treated with all obsequious ceremony like the duke, and assured that he had been insane, owes its popularity to the fact, that it symbolizes so well the state of man, who is in the world a sort of sot, but now and then wakes up, exercises his reason, and finds himself a true prince.”
What if your entire life you’ve been insane? That everything “negative” that you’ve thought about yourself – as someone who isn’t good enough, someone who is too old, too young, too poor, too sick, too stupid – has been wrong.
Or… what if you’ve been right – up until this point you have been too old, too young, too poor, too sick, too stupid – but it’s only because you’ve fallen for the illusion that your circumstances make you who you are, so you’ve allowed yourself to become what you thought you were destined to be. Maybe if you were put into different circumstances, and were convinced that your previous ones were a mistake – all of that would change.
I’m not saying that any of this is true… just asking if you’re willing to entertain the possibility.
Are you even willing to be willing?
If you are willing (or at the very least willing to be willing), how can you change those circumstances? How can you work with the ones that you can’t change, and turn them into an asset?
How can you become the princess or prince that you, and only you, have the potential to be?
Did anything in that passage resonate with you? Have an opinion you’d like to share? Feel free to drop your own thoughts in the comments.