Quotes about Independence & Individuality
“You are your own forerunner, and the towers you have built are but the foundation of your giant-self. And that self too shall be a foundation.
And I too am my own forerunner, for the long shadow stretching before me at sunrise shall gather under my feet at the noon hour. Yet another sunrise shall lay another shadow before me, and that also shall be gathered at another noon.
Always have we been our own forerunners, and always shall we be. And all that we have gathered and shall gather shall be but seeds for fields yet unploughed. We are the fields and the ploughmen, the gatherers and the gathered.”
– Khalil Gibran, The Forerunner (1920)
“I owe nothing to my brothers, nor do I gather debts from them. I ask none to live for me, nor do I live for any others. I covet no man’s soul, nor is my soul theirs to covet.”
“I am no bird; and no net ensnares me: I am a free human being with an independent will.”
– Charlotte Brontë, on Independence in Jane Eyre
“Care about what other people think and you will always be their prisoner.”
– Lao Tzu about Independence
“Few men have virtue to withstand the highest bidder.”
– George Washington, as quoted in a Letter to Major-General Robert Howe (17 August 1779)
“They deem me mad because I will not sell my days for gold; and I deem them mad because they think my days have a price. ”
“I do not surrender my treasures, nor do I share them. The fortune of my spirit is not to be blown into coins of brass and flung to the winds as alms for the poor of the spirit. I guard my treasures: my thought, my will, my freedom. And the greatest of these is freedom.”
“How happy is the little stone
That rambles in the road alone,
And doesn’t care about careers,
And exigencies never fears;
Whose coat of elemental brown
A passing universe put on;
And independent as the sun,
Associates or glows alone,
Fulfilling absolute decree
In casual simplicity.”
– Emily Dickinson
“So the fact that I’m me and no one else is one of my greatest assets. Emotional hurt is the price a person has to pay in order to be independent.”
– Haruki Murakami, about independence in What I Talk About When I Talk About Running
“Although I am a typical loner in my daily life, my awareness of belonging to the invisible community of those who strive for truth, beauty, and justice has prevented me from feelings of isolation.”
“My passionate sense of social justice and social responsibility has always contrasted oddly with my pronounced lack of need for direct contact with other human beings and human communities.”
“Don’t be satisfied with stories, how things have gone with others. Unfold your own myth.”
– Rumi, The Essential Rumi
“Is it so bad to be misunderstood? Pythagoras was misunderstood, and Socrates, and Jesus, and Luther, and Copernicus, and Galileo, and Newton, and every pure and wise spirit that ever took flesh.”
“Loneliness is the alchemy that turns an adolescent into an adult. Adolescents are profoundly lonely, but believe that their pangs will be solved by finding a lover, while the adult recognizes loneliness as the defining term of the human condition.”
– Joan Gould
“I believe that everything happens for a reason. People change so that you can learn to let go, things go wrong so that you appreciate them when they’re right, you believe lies so you eventually learn to trust no one but yourself, and sometimes good things fall apart so better things can fall together.”
“In the depths of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer.”
– Albert Camus, Quotes from The Unquiet Vision: Mirrors of Man in Existentialism
”Respect the child. Be not too much his parent. Trespass not on his solitude.”
“The greatest gifts you can give your children are the roots of responsibility and the wings of independence.”
– Denis Waitley
“To go wrong in one’s own way is better then to go right in someone else’s.”
– Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Crime and Punishment
“We only become what we are by the radical and deep-seated refusal of that which others have made of us.”
“The whole educational and professional training system is a very elaborate filter, which just weeds out people who are too independent, and who think for themselves, and who don’t know how to be submissive, and so on — because they’re dysfunctional to the institutions.”
– Noam Chomsky about Independence
“You can chain me, you can torture me, you can even destroy this body, but you will never imprison my mind.”
– Mahatma Gandhi about Individuality
“Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery.
None but ourselves can free our minds.”
– Bob Marley about Independence
“People who live in society have learned how to see themselves in mirrors as they appear to their friends. I have no friends. Is that why my flesh is so naked?”
– Jean Paul Sartre, as quoted in La nausée
“I don’t like ass kissers, flag wavers or team players. I like people who buck the system. Individualists. I often warn people: “Somewhere along the way, someone is going to tell you, ‘There is no “I” in team.’ What you should tell them is, ‘Maybe not. But there is an “I” in independence, individuality and integrity.'” Avoid teams at all cost. Keep your circle small. Never join a group that has a name. If they say, “We’re the So-and-Sos,” take a walk. And if, somehow, you must join, if it’s unavoidable, such as a union or a trade association, go ahead and join. But don’t participate; it will be your death. And if they tell you you’re not a team player, congratulate them on being observant.”
– George Carlin on Independence
“Thus I became a madman.
And I have found both freedom and safety in my madness; the freedom of loneliness and the safety from being understood, for those who understand us enslave something in us.
But let me not be too proud of my safety. Even a Thief in a jail is safe from another thief.”
– Khalil Gibran, The Madman: His Parables and Poems (1918)
“Whoso would be a man, must be a nonconformist. He who would gather immortal palms must not be hindered by the name of goodness, but must explore if it be goodness. Nothing is at last sacred but the integrity of your own mind.”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson, about Independence Essays: First Series
“What moves the Greek warrior to deeds of heroism kitto comments is not a sense of duty as we understand it – duty towards others: it is rather a duty towards himself he strives after that which we translate virtue but in Greek is arête or excellence.
Arête implies a respect for the wholeness or oneness of life and a consequent dislike for specialization. It implies a contempt for efficiency or rather a much higher idea if efficiency, an efficiency which exists not in ones department of life but in life itself.
– Robert Prisig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
“If you are lonely when you’re alone, you are in bad company.”
“What now on the other hand makes people sociable is their incapacity to endure solitude and thus themselves.”
– Arthur Schopenhauer, as quoted in Aphorisms on the Wisdom of Life
“More and more I found myself at a loss for words and didn’t want to hear other people talking either. Their conversations seemed false and empty. I preferred to look at the sea, which said nothing and never made you feel alone.”
– Paula McLain, about Independence in The Paris Wife
“Freethinkers are those who are willing to use their minds without prejudice and without fearing to understand things that clash with their own customs, privileges, or beliefs. This state of mind is not common, but it is essential for right thinking…”
– Leo Tolstoy, about Independence
“All your life, you have heard yourself denounced, not for your faults, but for your greatest virtues. You have been hated, not for your mistakes, but for your achievements. You have been scorned for all those qualities of character which are your highest pride. You have been called selfish for the courage of acting on your own judgment and bearing sole responsibility for your own life. You have been called arrogant for your independent mind. You have been called cruel for your unyielding integrity.”
“My great mistake, the fault for which I can’t forgive myself, is that one day I ceased my obstinate pursuit of my own individuality.”
“Mr. Albert Einstein was right: If you feel you need to go one way, even when everyone else is going the other way, do so, do so to make positive changes in your life and for this world. I guarantee you, that you will never regret that decision. Believe in yourself, other people will also believe you in time. I believe in you. Yes, I believe in you.”
– Martin R. Lemieux
“It gives me great pleasure indeed to see the stubbornness of an incorrigible nonconformist warmly acclaimed.”
“The result of this mental dullness is that inner vacuity and emptiness that is stamped on innumerable faces and also betrays itself in a constant and lively attention to all events in the external world, even the most trivial. This vacuity is the real source of boredom and always craves for external excitement in order to set the mind and spirits in motion through something. Therefore in the choice thereof it is not fastidious, as is testified by the miserable and wretched pastimes to which people have recourse. … The principal result of this inner vacuity is the craze for society, diversion, amusement, and luxury of every kind which lead many to extravagance and so to misery. Nothing protects us so surely from this wrong turning as inner wealth, the wealth of the mind, for the more eminent it becomes, the less room does it leave for boredom. The inexhaustible activity of ideas, their constantly renewed play with the manifold phenomena of the inner and outer worlds, the power and urge always to make different combinations of them, all these put the eminent mind, apart from moments of relaxation, quite beyond the reach of boredom.”
– Arthur Schopenhauer, as quoted in Aphorisms on the Wisdom of Life, E. Payne, trans. (1974) Vol. 1, pp. 329–330
“The health of society thus depends quite as much on the independence of the individuals composing it as on their close political cohesion.”
“Independence is my happiness, and I view things as they are, without regard to place or person; my country is the world, and my religion is to do good.”
– Thomas Paine, Rights of Man
“To find yourself, think for yourself.”
“It is easy in the world to live after the world’s opinion; it is easy in solitude to live after our own; but the great man is he who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude.”
“A person who has not been completely alienated, who has remained sensitive and able to feel, who has not lost the sense of dignity, who is not yet “for sale”, who can still suffer over the suffering of others, who has not acquired fully the having mode of existence – briefly, a person who has remained a person and not become a thing – cannot help feeling lonely, powerless, isolated in present-day society. He cannot help doubting himself and his own convictions, if not his sanity. He cannot help suffering, even though he can experience moments of joy and clarity that are absent in the life of his “normal” contemporaries. Not rarely will he suffer from neurosis that results from the situation of a sane man living in an insane society, rather than that of the more conventional neurosis of a sick man trying to adapt himself to a sick society. In the process of going further in his analysis, i.e. of growing to greater independence and productivity,his neurotic symptoms will cure themselves.”
– Erich Fromm
Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.
It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll.
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.
– William Ernest Henley
“Be a loner. That gives you time to wonder, to search for the truth. Have holy curiosity. Make your life worth living.”
“So much is still to be learned! So long a road lies before us, and what care we if we must travel it alone!
“When I discover who I am, I’ll be free.”
– Ralph Ellison, Invisible Man