“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.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson, Self-Reliance
Ralph Waldo Emerson has always been one of my favorite philosophers. The clarity with which he wrote about the human experience seems to convey my fuzzy thoughts and feelings. It is as if Emerson looked inside me and printed onto the page the words that reflect the turmoil or thoughts that I am experiencing. This is NOT to say that I believe myself to be on Emerson’s level – far from that!! It is just that his writings always touch me in such a personal way that I can relate as if he and I were sitting down chatting over a nice cup of hot chocolate and his words were chosen carefully for the lesson that I needed imparted to me.
How often is it that we are comfortable being ourselves in the privacy of our home? How is it that we are in a group that we become someone else – taking on the attitudes and behaviors we perceive as being favored by those in our company? How hard it is to be completely true to ourselves when in the presence of people whom are not part of our immediate family! How we wish to have everyone love us and accept us for who we are yet we put on a facade in hopes to make a better impression. Even as we walk down the street, we try to present an air of confidence which we may not truly feel. Acceptance and insecurity. We seek to be accepted and we are insecure about being accepted as we are by others.
I find myself all too often concerned with being liked by others. Did he misunderstand what I was trying to say? Did she misread my body language as being standoffish instead of being uncertain in the situation? Does he think that I am uneducated because I cannot contribute to the current conversation? Does she think that I am rude because I am not good at engaging in small talk? Did my attempt to be funny come across as idiotic? Was my awkward attempt to reach out and make a new friend interpreted as needy?
As I deal with my insecurities, I remind myself of my strengths. It is during these times that I focus on who I really am and the person that I wish to grown into. As I strive to be the best person I can be in all of my roles, I hope that others are able to see me for who I really am and love me anyway.