What I must do is all that concerns me, not what the people think. R. W. Emerson in "Self-Reliance"
"Genius is said to be self-conscious." Charlotte Bronte Jane Eyre
When I first read Jane Eyre
I had no idea what that sentence meant. I held on to the definition of self-conscious as the cliché thirteen year old girl with body image issues. I thought of self-conscious as someone who has spinach in their teeth on a date they have been waiting for for years. I thought of someone who feels unworthy or somehow less than what they consider the "normal". I thought of everything I felt a genius not to be. And then I realized what self-conscious actually is. It is completely disjoint from body dismorphia, from timidity, from self-worth issues. Being self-conscious is everything but those things. It is being perceptive of one's emotions, one's torments, one's weaknesses, one's fears, one's way of being...
Being a genius is acting on what you perceive without remorse. Genius is knowing what you are horrible at and temporarily absolving your failure to give yourself mental space to fix it. It is thriving in one's body, fearless and emancipated. Genius is non-competitive. It is accepting of the brilliance found in other people because what makes them intellectually beyond the average person is their willingness to learn. A true genius recognizes the brilliance of the world, of the people of the world, and is never afraid to become a student again. It is never afraid to question or to ask. The roll of a teacher is not any more familiar to a genius than the roll of a student. Brilliance is something that cannot be hidden. Attempting to hid it is as futile as hiding the sun from the dawn or the moon from the night. It is something deeply rooted into who we are and for whom we are becoming. It is a way of being versus a state of being. Genius will never be static, rather its dynamics mimic simple harmonic motion, always oscillating, but aware of its position.
Most importantly genius is born into itself. It just is. It doesn't have to be, or become, or try. It simply is, which is why it is self-conscious. It doesn't need permission to exist, rather it is too concerned with the process of being to worry about trifling matters of "permission." This essence is what Emerson was referring to in "Self-Reliance." Genius is selfish; it acts on what it believes and perceives and is immune to society's constant coercion to conform, which is a part of what makes it so brilliant.
The day I finally understood these quotes, a light-bulb lit up in my head. In fact a flood lamp burst on and all of the stage lights switched on. My retinas imploded, and I winced at the brightness I had finally come into. Understanding these sentences changed my entire perception of what it means to truly "be." I realized that everyone's genius, that my genius, would exist effortlessly if we let it. From then on I have ignored the concept of permission, usurped authority that occasionally hasn't been mine, and have existed boldly without remorse. I am what I am when I am it. I haven't yet crossed paths with my genius, but I'm not looking for it either. Besides, I don't have to. If I am living correctly my genius will be self-conscious and my only duty to myself is to "do is all that concerns me, not what the people think."