paddle (one's) own canoe

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paddle (one's) own canoe

To act independently. Now that you're 30, people expect you to paddle your own canoe—you can't just live with your parents forever.
See also: canoe, own, paddle
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

paddle one's own canoe

Fig. to do something by oneself; to be alone. I've been left to paddle my own canoe too many times. Sally isn't with us. She's off paddling her own canoe.
See also: canoe, own, paddle
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

paddle one's own canoe

Be independent and self-reliant, as in It's time Bill learned to paddle his own canoe. This idiom alludes to steering one's own boat. [c. 1800]
See also: canoe, own, paddle
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Copyright © 2003, 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

paddle your own canoe

If you paddle your own canoe, you control what you want to do without anyone's help or interference. With no one managing him, he was basically left to paddle his own canoe. As far as the rest of Europe is concerned we've just got to paddle our own canoe.
See also: canoe, own, paddle
Collins COBUILD Idioms Dictionary, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2012

paddle your own canoe

be independent and self-sufficient. informal
This expression has been in figurative use from the early 19th century: it was the title of a popular song by Sarah T. Bolton in 1854 .
See also: canoe, own, paddle
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017

paddle one's own canoe, to

To be independent and self-reliant. The analogy to steering one’s boat is very old indeed; Euripides drew it in his play Cyclops (ca. 440 b.c.). Canoes being largely a Western Hemisphere conveyance, this particular version of the term is American in origin. It dates from about 1800. An early appearance in print occurs in Frederick Marryat’s Settlers in Canada (1840). A few years later Harper’s Monthly (May 1854) published the following ditty: “Voyager upon life’s sea, to yourself be true, And whate’er your lot may be, paddle your own canoe.” It became a popular music-hall song.
See also: own, paddle, to
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer
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References in periodicals archive ?
Young James then got stuck in, learning to play Van Morrison tracks and Derek and the Dominos by ear, and although he performed in bands with his brothers and friends, he always wanted to paddle his own canoe.
"They let each poor fellow paddle his own canoe, and if he capsizes and stretches out his hand in despair for someone to save him...
But Myleene said: "Fran should learn to paddle his own canoe and get on with his job.
My advice to Mr Dix is that he should talk to some of his elected Labour leaders about Labour policy and the One Wales Agreement that his party has signed up to, rather than paddle his own canoe against a tide that has already washed over him.