"Self-Reliance" by Ralph Waldo Emerson is an essay that stresses the importance of knowing who you are and not letting outside sources influence you. Here are its four main ideas:
"Trust thyself": This is some of Emerson's most fervent advice. He wants readers to trust their inner voice that tells them the difference between right and wrong—instead of listening to others who might try to decide these things for them. "With the exercise of self-trust," he writes, "new powers shall appear." Not only will a person gain peace within themselves, but they will also make society better as a result.
What is true for you is true for the world: To take the first idea further, Emerson states that listening to your own inner voice is like listening to the voice of the world. He says that "genius" is believing that "what is true for you in your private heart is true for all men." Believing that your own beliefs are the highest form of truth will give you confidence and allow you to fully believe in yourself, which will then change the world as a whole.
Don't conform: According to Emerson, there is nothing worse than conforming to someone else's ideas. One should not listen to the church's ideals or give in to the pressure of society. One should always stay true to one's self and one's own beliefs. In this case, Emerson believes that individual identity is more important than society as a whole.
Divine influence: While the whole idea of the essay is that you should be reliant on yourself as an individual (and that you shouldn't rely on the church to tell you what to think), Emerson also makes the point that God is within the individual. One should trust their inner thoughts and beliefs because they were put there by a divine power, and people should focus on developing, understanding, and relying on these ideas with confidence: "God will not have his work made manifest by cowards."