Social Commentary

Self-reliance has always been a personal virtue. My philosophy is that there’s no one I can, and should, rely on more than myself, a philosophy that I often applied in school and in my personal life, and it has served me well 15 out of 16 times. Which is to say, for the first 15 years of my life, self-reliance seemed to benefit my situation and positively shape the person I had become.

Up until Junior year, when confronted with an academic challenge, I usually chose to consult all the relevant pages in my textbook and the first three pages of Google search results before even considering to ask my parents or teachers for help. When dealing with personal problems, I felt it was my responsibility to mediate a common ground with my peers and develop a routine of the things I could do for myself. This philosophy worked out for me mainly because most of the conflicts I encountered were limited to a fight with my best friend over something trivial or how to solve for x.

My self-reliant behavior led my teachers to remark upon my perseverance with regards to problem solving as well as my self-driven motivation to succeed in school. Likewise, my parents appreciated the fact that I strived to gain a degree of independence which they believed would benefit me as I matured. But, perhaps the most rewarding effect of self-reliance was the feeling I perceived from doing something by myself and for myself. There is a sense of self-pride that comes with any accomplishment, especially if that accomplishment was entirely attributed to my own hard work. So, to some degree, I was greedy. I wanted my success to be solely mine. I was too proud to ask for help—to rely on others.

What I failed to realize was that my effort to gain autonomy also came with consequences. Self-reliance led me to dread group projects because if “Jane” didn’t do her share of the work, we would both receive the lower grade. I found it difficult to trust others to uphold their share and to confide in others. In addition, maintaining a self-dependency was no longer rewarding when the problems I faced became psychologically orientated as I got older. When I failed to complete my schoolwork, all the blame fell on me too. Stress too often consumed my mind when I realized that my self-reliance led me to push my friends away.

For most of my life, I was able to overlook these minor setbacks because success, as a result of my own hard work, outweighed the failures. However, I would come to realize that all my failures could solely be attributed to me also, and for the first time, self-reliance meant that I was alone.

My stubbornness to remain self-reliant slowly began to take a mental toll. As a teenager, I wanted to maintain my sense of self-pride and autonomy. However, once my pride began to interfere with relationships and my self-esteem, I came to realize that I must overcome our pride and learn to trust others, depend on others and confide in others. Sure, once in while, we may be discouraged by the incompetence of others, but that should not discourage us from letting others into our lives.