It is the want of all human beings to be able to discover all their talents and competencies and using them to achieve an internally driven goal. This wish to have a clear goal in life which is achieved via a combination of one`s true abilities and a draw close of who they are is what is referred to as self-actualization. Stanton, Dillard, and Jewett have all expressed the need for people to be self-actualized in their speech and books respectively. For one to achieve a self-actualized country of being, they must be ready to make big sacrifices that might also involve declining pleasure or comfort a fact that Stanton, Dillard, and Jewett appear to agree on in their books and speech respectively.
Priorities determine whether one will achieve self-actualization in their life. One must decide on the value that certain things or people bring to their lives and how this affects achievements of certain goals. The negative things or people that prevent one from being who they feel they should be must be avoided because, by giving them priority, one loses focus on the things they should be doing to realize their potential. In “A White Heron” Jewett presents attraction as the distraction that would have prevented Sylvia from attaining self-actualization since in giving in to the attraction she had for the hunter she would have betrayed her instincts.
If Sylvia had let her emotions get the better of her, she would have given away the heron going against the love and understanding she had for wild animals, for we are told she preferred the countryside to the city because she relished the company of animals (Jewett 2). By overcoming the urge, Sylvia can be said to have actualized who she was. From her speech, one can deduce that Stanton had attained self-actualization and was seeking for other women to be given a chance to do so. Stanton stated that even though women may be offered protection by men, the fact is that everyone regardless of their sex, exists in solitude and ultimately are responsible for the direction their lives take (Hogan 32). Stanton was asking for equality in leadership to help women achieve their personal goals in life because irrespective of the protection that they were offered by the men everyone is inherently separate from the other.
For people to be able to reach a point of self-actualization they must know who they are first. In knowing who they are, can an individual realize what they want in life and set out to achieve it using all available means such as their talents and abilities. In “Living like Weasels” Dillard explains this using a weasel as an example. She explains that the weasel lives the way nature made him stating that he had a fierce and single-minded focus to do what he was meant to do; survive (Dillard 2). She finds humanity lacking such a will with most people limiting themselves by not yielding to their needs or interests. People should, therefore, actualize themselves by looking for their most basic necessity in life and pursue it with the focus of a weasel trying to survive (Dillard 2).
Jewett in “A White Heron” supports this by showing that after Sylvia climbed on the tree to trace the white heron, she realized that she loved nature more than money or attraction (Jewett, 9). In climbing the tree, Sylvia is reminded of the deep connection she shares with her natural surroundings mainly with the wild animals of the forest. She actualizes herself when she acknowledges that she would rather decline the monetary incentive that the young man was offering her than give away the location of the white heron. Sylvia realized that even if the attraction she had for the hunter had influenced her to initially accept his offer she would be betraying who she was if she gave him the location of the heron.
In becoming self-actualized one needs to have internal grit because for one to be self-actualized, they will need to make conscious choices to become who they are meant to be. One will need to make conscious choices such as dropping unimportant habits that hinder them from realizing their full potential. In “Living like Weasels” Dillard explains that for one to live like a weasel, they must diligently find what their purpose in life is and pursue it when they do.
An individual must, therefore, make the conscious decision to actively look for what they were meant to do and will also be required to constantly make other decisions for them to achieve these goals (Hogan 32). These decisions will require one to have internal grit because they may involve giving up on certain things or people. Sylvia in “A White Heron”, developed internal grit and declined the offer from the hunter who had earlier on swayed her with money to give away the location of the heron. Jewett is demonstrating that for one to achieve what they want most out of life; they must be prepared to make conscious choices as Sylvia did.
All human beings desire to attain self-actualization whereby, they are internally driven to achieve a particular goal in life after having discovered who they are and what drives them, this state can only be achieved by making difficult and conscious choices. Stanton, Dillard, and Jewett in their respective speech and books have in different ways demonstrated how this state could be achieved and the importance of actualizing oneself. In becoming actualized an individual can overcome any obstacles hindering them from achieving their true purpose in life since their drive comes from within and enables one to live a fulfilling life.
Hogan, Lisa Shawn. “ELIZABETH CADY STANTON,“THE SOLITUDE OF SELF”(JANUARY 18, 1892).” (2014). Pp 1-32.
Jewett, Sarah Orne. A White Heron and Other Stories. Courier Corporation, 2012. Pp 2-9.
Dillard, Annie. “Living like weasels.” One Hundred Great Essays (1982). Pp 1-2.