I love to make things, but there’s a lot I don’t know how to do yet.
How to program, how to draw, how to animate. Yet, I find myself wanting to do them all mysef, despite my lack of skills (at least right now).
For one reason or another, being able to create individually, to be self-sufficient, is incredibly intriguing to me. I know it’s not feasible to do EVERYTHING, but that doesn’t stop me from trying.
Aside from that slight road block, there’s something to be said about the power of self sufficiency, to be able to take matters into your own hands.
While most say that you should outsource this work or partner for that work, I don’t particularly enjoy such arrangements. I’m much happier being the lone wolf, creating as I see fit.
As I thought about this further, I wanted to better understand this desire and why I’m drawn to it. I dug a little deeper and what I found certainly made things clearer. Here are a few of those realizations.
1. Control of the process
It all starts with control. I simply prefer being in control of the process and outcome of my work. Far too often I find myself thinking, I could have done that better if I had just done it myself.
This is simplistic thinking, but on a deeper level, I think I prefer knowing that the outcome is on my shoulders. I have to get it done for it manifest. Such self-reliance is powerful.
2. Lossless translation
One of the problems of not being self-sufficient is of course communication. Far too much of any vision is lost in translation when the individual with the idea is not the same individual creating it (or at least working closely with a partner).
This gap, which I think anyone working in a corporate office can appreciate, can be as slight as things being a bit off to as drastic as complete and utter disaster.
When the communication is happening in your head, the risk of such loss is eliminated.
3. Act of creation
Finally, there’s something powerful about being able to make something that only previously existed in your head. Taking an idea to reality, all under your own power, is an empowering feeling.
I think it is in such processes that true happiness and fulfillment of work can be discovered. The creation process is, after all, a spiritual one.
f course it’s not all sunshine and rainbows. Being self-sufficient comes at a cost. You have to spend the time and effort to develop the skills necessary to do what you want.
While the world we live in today has significantly reduced many barriers to entry, thanks to robust tools and boundless access to information, it is still a lot to take on.
What I think makes the achievement of self sufficiency worthwhile in the end, is the actual process. It’s the joy and happiness that arrives when you are able to fully express yourself.
This idea reminded me of the famous essay Self Reliance by Ralph Waldo Emerson. In it he argues for individuals to trust in themselves and follow their own unique paths. Rather than falling into conformity, to strive for greatness.
One lesson, which I think is most prevalent, is that while he stresses this self-reliance, he is also aware that you must have a muse or calling that is guiding you.
You don’t become self-sufficient in every thing, but rather in those things that bring you joy, those things that you have a natural talent towards. As he says in the essay:
“Be yourself; no base imitator of another, but your best self. There is something which you can do better than another. Listen to the inward voice and bravely obey that. Do the things at which you are great, not what you were never made for.”
This is the key that unlocks the power of self sufficiency. You can’t just be self sufficient in everything because you feel like it. Rather you seek self sufficiency at the things that speak to you on another level, in the mind and in the soul.
Finding these things is easier said than done, but you may already have stumbled across a few. They may not always be apparent and they may take time to foster such deep connections, but they are always worth the time and effort.
The greatest thing in the world is to know how to be self-sufficient.Michel de Montaigne
I can’t do it all. I know that. But chasing self sufficiency in the things that matter is a worthy endeavor.
Sure it may take you twice as long, but the reward is twice as great.