My transformation from herd mentality to individualism

My reality in this human body began like everyone else, a curious little human looking at this new world around me with new eyes, trying to figure it out as quickly as possible. As an infant we constantly scan the environment around us to determine what kind of world we are living in. Is it safe? Are there enough resources? Do we live in a win-win negotiable environment or a win-lose violent environment. Once this is determined our brains literally become wired to adapt to what we observe. If our parents and people around us are constantly fighting and yelling we become more prone to violence. If our parents and people around us settle conflicts through negotiation and understanding we are better able to express our needs and negotiate for a win-win situation. This early infancy stage is very detrimental to our species development. Our brains grow the quickest during this time and the environment impacts how our neurons connect, coincidently creating who you are as an individual. So it’s safe to say that one of our greatest strengths as a human being is to assess the environment around us and adapt to it in order to increase our chance of survival. As children we tend to adapt towards our parents values as they are the ones who feed us, shelter us and provide the necessary resources for our survival. Therefore who we grow up to be is directly related to how our parents treated us and the environment our parents created for us.

My childhood was a complex one that left me grasping for answers. My ability to assess the situation around me and act accordingly was very strong and one of the main factors I contribute to my survival and development. As a young boy I moved around a lot and lived with different family members. I went to a total of 10 different school districts in four different states. Needless to say I had to assimilate to a new group of people whether in a family setting or a school setting often in my life. This assimilation process always took its necessary steps. The first step was to isolate myself and scan the crowd to see how people interacted with others. Through this scanning process I quickly deciphered who was the “in crowd” and who wasn’t. I then began to mimic the behavior of the “in crowd” in hopes to be accepted. Sometimes it worked and other times it didn’t. As I look back now I realize the reason I subconsciously did this was to protect myself. If you are part of the “in crowd” you don’t get picked on and life becomes less stressful. I went through this process for most of my youth. Constantly looking towards others and eroding who I really was in order to fit in. It wasn’t until a few years ago I realized that most people never grow out of this “need to be accepted” stage.

It wasn’t until I went to Florida to do the Disney Internship where I made an agreement with myself where I would work on being more authentic. I came to this decision after thinking long and hard about what my future would look like if I always followed the herd in order to be accepted. I saw a person who on the outside looked happy and content but on the inside a ball of energy and ideas that could never be said or acted upon. I understood that we are social animals and we have a biological need to be accepted. Although, after thinking deeper I realized that I would be more alone if I couldn’t be who I was around my family and peers. Constantly having to hide my thoughts and needs in order to not be an inconvenience to the ones around me only insured that my life would be empty, insignificant and passionless. I would just be another brick in the wall as I assimilated to the herd. I believe this is what it really is like to be alone. To have all these thoughts and feelings inside but unable to share them with the people around you because of the fear of being rejected is worse than being alone. It is a waste of life. It is the equivalent of a bird who knows how to fly but never able to take off because the other birds who were raised in cages would ridicule him. Once I emotionally understood this concept I began the process of speaking my mind more even if I was the only one with my opinion. I wasn’t good at it at first since most things take practice but with time and putting myself in the situation enough it became easier and easier.  It is difficult to be only one person standing up for something when the herd begins to attack you but it is a skill and skills can be enhanced through practice and practice is what I have done.

This leaves me to where I am today. Now I am living in this world as a 27 year old male who refuses to placate to other peoples irrationalities in order to be accepted. My skill of being able to quickly scan the environment around me and assess the current situation is still very strong but now that I am older and wiser I can refrain from the still very strong urge of needing to be accepted by others at the expense of eroding who I am or what I think. I am now very skeptical of the herd. I am in a stage where I am thinking for myself using reason and logic as my principles. Ever since I began this journey relationships I have had have crumbled and new ones have formed. I am no longer listening to my biological need to be accepted by the herd but instead I am choosing wisely who I accept in my life. Ever since I have made this life style change my life has gotten better. Notice I did not say easier but I said better. It actually became more difficult. It is difficult to hold yourself and the people around you to a higher standard and to remind each other to follow principles. It is difficult to strive for truth, virtue and self-knowledge. It is difficult to let go of certain relationships and make new ones. It is difficult to see the world as it truly is and even more difficult to try and show others what the world truly is. The difficulty of this path stems from the uncomfortable feelings associated with it. No one wants to see their faults let alone emotionally admit they have them and work towards bettering themselves. No one wants to admit that our society isn’t as virtuous as we are led to believe. It is very uncomfortable and is a big shot to the ego and delusional mind. It is a very difficult journey to pursue. Although through all the difficulties pursing self-knowledge and philosophy it is apparent that this is the path for me. I believe in myself and I want to attract others who believe in themselves and can think and share ideas using reason and logic. I am following the path of philosophy to grow as much as I can in my life. I am going to be as bold as I can be with the ultimate purpose of pushing our species toward truth and virtue while inspiring others to do the same.

“All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” (Edmund Burke)