Nothing is at last sacred but the integrity of your own mind. Absolve you to yourself, and you shall have the suffrage of the world. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

We live in a society of advice columns, experts and make-over shows. Without even knowing it, you can begin to believe someone knows better than you how to live your life. Someone might know a particular something better – like how to bake a three-layer molten coconut chocolate cake or how to build a website – but nobody else on the planet knows how to live your life better than you. (Although one or two people may think they do.) For today, trying asking yourself often, especially before you make a choice, “What do I know about this?”

(Author: Jen Louden)


It’s difficult to feel confident in yourself sometimes, especially when there’s this constant awareness that there are people who know differently than you. Social media is wonderful for sharing and collaborating – but there is a darker side to it too; it’s a side that covets.

When I started my job, I knew that I was surrounded by professionals I could learn from. I absorbed. I listened. I took what they said to heart. It was easy to let others think for me at first, but as I grew and absorbed and experienced, I started to form my own ideas. I constructed my own opinions. Instead of regurgitating everything I had read, saw tweeted, or heard in a webinar, I started to interject my own flavor.

It wasn’t easy at first. My transition into thought independence was one that took a long time.


It started with listening – and staying quiet. I read blog posts as gospel. I didn’t comment – I lurked. I followed self-proclaimed gurus and experts and started to explore the vast ocean of ideas that was put in front of me. Overwhelmed couldn’t begin to describe it.


I started to slowly step away from the tide. I connected with one expert rather than another. I commented every once in awhile. Granted, they were vanilla comments, but they were comments nonetheless.  I formed preferences. I bookmarked a list of favorites.


I allowed myself to be disappointed. I edited my bookmarks. I saw holes in arguments. I questioned and became frustrated. Why couldn’t I create something this meaningful? Why couldn’t I write anything as valuable is this? Why isn’t my work up to this level?


Dive headfirst into doing what they say to do. Trying concepts. Testing theories. Playing myth buster.  Constantly questioning whether what I’m doing is worthwhile or if it’s of any relevance or value.


They have more experience – but I can still create good work. I wrote more. I experimented more. I started to piece together opinions and ideas of what worked and what didn’t. More reading, more listening, more producing. Not as much interaction as I would like. Still, I was scared.


My work gets noticed. There’s praise and sharing on Twitter. People leave comments. I respond. It all feels good.


Someone disagrees. What do they know? Do I suck this much? Why am I doing this in the first place?


I can’t make everyone happy – and that’s OK. I’m producing work that I feel happy with most of the time. That’s OK, too. More of my own words. More of my own opinions. Reading some motivational/get-shit-done sort of blogs. Pick myself up. Dust myself off. Let’s start again.


We all can’t be 100% thought independent. So much of ourselves is formed based on the ideas of others. And that’s totally OK. But it’s nice to be reminded that we don’t have to listen to that little voice in our heads recalling what someone else said or wrote. Sometimes, it’s good to just go with your gut and know that you know enough to say what you think.

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