Trust Thyself

By Soumya Kulkarni, Regular ContributorSeptember 23, 2015

If my computer had a trash bin, it would be overflowing with virtually crumpled paper: drafts, ideas, re-writes, and pieces I’ve just plain given up on because I’ve  reworded and reworded the same sentence over and over again.

They say that we are our own greatest critic.

But, how do you know if you’re giving yourself good advice or if you’re your biggest obstacle to growth? This week was my first week back to school. My honors English class is learning about Transcendentalism for the first unit- Emerson, Thoreau, Whitman, the works. I’m a competitive chess player and on Saturday, I competed in a chess tournament. The tournament started great but the last round I threw away a winning game with a silly mistake. I barely made it to the car before I started full on sobbing. “If I keep making mistakes like this,” I asked my dad, “how will I ever become a good player? How do I know that the successes I’ve had in the past weren’t just flukes- how do I know I actually deserved them?”

My dad replied, “Believe in yourself. The greatest asset a person has in life is self-confidence.”

The next morning I began my English homework, an excerpt from Ralph Waldo Emerson’s Self-Reliance. Right there, on top of the front page, Emerson wrote, “Trust thyself: every heart vibrates to that iron string.” It felt like the universe was sending me signals.



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It’s hard being a young person in society. There are always people who feel it’s their duty to tell us what to do and how to do it. And today, these so-called ideals of society push their way through our phones at 3:00 AM, creeping through the ghastly blue light of the screen telling us this is how we need to dress, this is how we need to act. They creep into our lives through our computer and television screens.

When Emerson first proposed his idea of self-reliance or self-fulfillment, many members within the Transcendental movement argued that it was promoting egotism. It’s sad to see that many people still agree with that opinion. I thought of this analogy while I was reading and found it amusing: when you’re on a plane and you’re watching the safety video, there’s always one part where they say, “Secure your own oxygen mask first before assisting others.” If there was ever a scenario when the oxygen masks did drop down, no one would blame someone for securing their own mask first. This is for two reasons: number one, you need oxygen to survive, and number two (maybe more importantly), how helpful would you be to someone else if you yourself are choking? Similarly, how would our positive impact on society increase if we understood that we are whole and perfectly-imperfect just the way we are. How much more would we accomplish if we listened to our own voice before drowning in the voices of others?

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About Soumya

SOUMYA_KULKARNI_writer_bio.jpgSoumya is a high-schooler from the Midwest. In addition to writing, she loves chess, reading good books, chocolate, tea, new cities, and Harry Potter. She hopes to inspire others to follow their dreams as she embarks on her own journeys. Find her at her personal blog, or tweet her @soumkulkarni.


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