Don’t try to figure out what behavior or opinion will make you popular with others. It is disrespectful to the grandeur of who you really are. It is selling your soul for the low outcome of manipulating the superficial affections of others—as if you needed their approval. Be what you are. Be indifferent to the judgments of others, not with a thoughtless or angry defiance, but with the firm knowledge that you are a vital expression of something unspeakably intelligent and good.
Forget about what you have been before. Forget what you’ve said before. Be what you are now, even if it “isn’t you”— that is, even if it seems to contradict what you or others have pigeonholed you to be. Be free. Be the creative force on the crest of the mighty wave of this very instant.
It is a healthy attitude to consider conciliatory behavior beneath you. In other words, don’t try to gain goodwill by displaying pleasing behavior. Don’t try to beg for peoples’ approval. That is the attitude of someone who doesn’t feel he has a right to be what he is, to feel the way he feels, to think what he thinks. But you DO have the right.
…Excerpt from Emerson’s Self-Reliance Essay translated into modern English by Adam Khan