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paddle one's own canoe

  1. (idiomatic) To independently make the decisions or perform the duties, tasks, etc. which are one's own responsibility and which affect oneself.
    • 1886, Louisa May Alcott, Jo's Boys, ch. 6:
      "Oh dear, life is pretty tough sometimes, isn't it?" And Nat took his head in both hands. . . .
      "Very tough, but it is that very struggle with obstacles which does us good. Things have been made easy for you in many ways, but no one can do everything. You must paddle your own canoe now."
    • 1918, Gene Stratton-Porter, A Daughter Of The Land, ch. 4:
      "I am too sorry for words," said Kate. "If I had known your plan, I would have followed it. . . . I thought I had to paddle my own canoe, so I made my own plans."
    • 1962, W. Cleon Skousen, So You Want to Raise a Boy?, →ISBN, p. 241 (Google preview):
      Junior has now arrived. All the laws which formerly protected him as a “minor” are now inapplicable. No longer does his mom or dad have the responsibility of providing his board and room. They may help out once in a while just because they love him, but, legally speaking, Junior is paddling his own canoe.
    • 2013 May 30, Steven Greenhouse, "U.S. Retailers Announce New Factory Safety Plan," New York Times (retrieved 3 Dec 2017):
      “There is no valid reason why they can’t join the initiative we have launched. It has been well received,” he said, adding, “Now they seem to want to paddle their own canoe on their own terms.”

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