Nietzsche - No One Can Help You Find Yourself

Virtue leads us to our highest-self, and for Nietzsche, our virtue was something we had to discover on our own. In Thus Spoke Zarathustra he wrote,

“…if you have a virtue and it is your own virtue, you have it in common with no one.”

Nietzsche, F. (2003). Thus Spoke Zarathustra (R. J. Hollingdale, Trans.). Penguin Books.

No one else can help us find our virtue. No one else can show us the way to our highest-self. That discovery has to be made alone.

The reason that no one can show us the way to ourselves is because the path we are meant to walk is completely unique. No one else has ever walked it before, and no one else will ever walk it again. We are not a superfluous redundancy produced by the universe, a cog in a machine that can simply be replaced by any other cog. We are a necessary organism that has a unique function and mission to fulfil. There is no map that can show us with certainty the steps we have to take in order to reach our highest potential. Instead, we are gifted with an internal compass that can show us the way forward.

But most people don’t follow their internal compass. They ignore it, and they seek out the directions of gurus, pundits, leaders, businessmen, and other charismatic figures instead. Most people want someone to tell them which way to go because it makes them feel safe. People find security in certainty, and receiving directions from others feels certain. But the only certainty we’ll get from following the directions others give us is the certainty of never finding ourselves, because they can’t lead us to ourselves. The only way to guarantee that we’ll find ourselves is to follow our internal compass.

But most people don’t follow their internal compass because it points towards uncertainty. Our compass points us towards dark caves and forests, or it points us towards unsteady and uncertain waters. Our compass points us towards an adventure, but most of us are too afraid to go on that adventure. What if we encounter something scary? Or what if we encounter something difficult? If we follow our compass, we are guaranteed to encounter uncertainty, difficulty, and fear.

But if we follow our compass, we’ll discover positive things that vastly outweigh the negative. We’ll discover adventure. We’ll discover growth. We’ll discover strength that we didn’t know we had. And above all, we’ll discover ourselves.

To discover ourselves, we need to follow our compass, and to follow our compass, we need to listen to that small, quiet voice within us. We need to listen to that voice that tells us when something is interesting, that voice that calls us towards things. And we need to listen to that voice that tells us when something is a violation of our own internal constitution, that voice that warns us away from things. And as we listen to that internal voice more and more, it grows louder and more courageous. It no longer whispers, but it boldly pronounces the way forward.

But as long as we’re obsessed with the voices of others, we’ll never learn to hear our own internal voice. And as long as we’re seeking certainty and comfort and direction, we’ll remain obsessed with the voices of others. And by following the directions of others, we’ll simply walk in circles, never discovering our highest potential. And although we may find comfort in the direction others give us, it’s really the comfort of a prison: it’s a false comfort. We’ll obtain the comfort of a princess locked away in her tower, never knowing the true and sweet taste of a real life.

If we want to live a real and full life, we have to stop looking to others to help us find ourselves. We have to get in tune with our internal compass and boldly follow its directions wherever they lead. And our compass will certainly take us through dark caves, uncertainty, and fear, and it will make us fight dragons and sail across dangerous oceans, but in the end, it will lead us up high, to the very peak of the mountain that is ourselves. As Nietzsche wrote in Thus Spoke Zarathustra,

“…if you have a virtue and it is your own virtue, you have it in common with no one.”

Nietzsche, F. (2003). Thus Spoke Zarathustra (R. J. Hollingdale, Trans.). Penguin Books.

No one can help us find ourselves. If we want to find ourselves, if we want to discover our own greatest and highest potential, we must do it alone, by following our internal compass.

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