Because I don't know what the essay prompt itself is, I can't give you a hard and fast answer on this one. However, I can give you some pointers on thesis writing in general, and some good questions to consider when it comes to the overarching concept of self-reliance in relation to Emerson's work.
Writing a Thesis Statement
One of the biggest, most common mistakes that students make when writing a thesis statement is that they create a statement of fact, not a statement of argument. A thesis is the argument that you spend the rest of your paper trying to prove; it must be clear but complex so that your reader understands what your argument is, but you can then spend an entire paper writing about it. The best way to ensure that your thesis is an argument is to use the word "because" in it. This implicitly requires a cause and an effect, and you have to prove that the relationship between them is true.
The Importance of Being Self-Reliant (general and Emersonian)
I'll give you some thoughts to ponder when it comes to brainstorming your thesis:
- What is self-reliance? What is the opposite of self-reliance?
- When people are self-reliant, what are they able to do that would be impossible otherwise?
- What are some disadvantages of self-reliance?
- How does Emerson define self-reliance?
- Why does Emerson spend so much time writing about self-reliance? What is his argument about it?
- Do you agree with Emerson?
- Do you consider yourself a self-reliant person?
- If yes, do you like being self-reliant, or do you wish that you were not?
- If no, do you wish that you were self-reliant, or are you content to not be?