Life Outside Social Media

Individuality Drives Disconnection

     I always used to pride myself for valuing individuality over collectivism because I assumed that being able to deal with everything on your own meant taking an immense leap towards self-sufficiency. As a matter of fact, my favorite novel in high school was Anthem by Ayn Rand, a dystopian fiction with an underlying message that individuality prevails over the collective masses. Whenever I'd watch a series or a movie, I often relate the most to characters with independent minds, people who don't like to be handled because they'd rather take matters into their own hands. For quite a while, that's entirely how I wanted myself to be — somebody who can fully embrace solitude as a result of developing a strong self-sustaining ability, but after observing how persistent this endeavor is in our widely individualistic Western culture, I'm beginning to feel like it's what is driving the loneliness epidemic.

     As a keen advocate of valuing self-discovery, I certainly find that putting yourself first should be of high priority, but there comes a point where we dive so far into ourselves that we forget to learn how to connect, so we're left with a generation that doesn't know how to love selflessly. We crave intimacy and human connection, yet we often don't communicate in the language of vulnerability nor exert sufficient effort to learn how to put others before ourselves because we've been so focused on doing otherwise.

     There has to be a middle ground where we can independently explore and discover ourselves without withdrawing from what we were built to do — to connect. If there's anything I've truly learned as a former Public Health major, it's that improving the well-being of an individual requires looking through a wider lens in which contexts must be considered. My individual health is not exclusively shaped by my personal choices but also the inevitable forces of my environment, the communities in which I grew up, and the people by whom I'm surrounded. Although practicing accountability through individual action is unquestionably essential in the workplace and elsewhere, collaboration is what kindles insightful ideas and deep-seated connections. Reveling in independence without being selfish means perceiving society outside your own perspective and learning how to incorporate the life that you've built for yourself into others without losing sight of who you are.

     As much as I genuinely enjoy being on my own, my path to personal growth wouldn't be as compelling without a drive for connection because it's the fundamental basis of love and empathy. We're often told that it's perfectly fine to be selfish in our 20s, but we process it in a way that disregards the significance of nurturing relationships and understanding diverse minds. Contrary to popular belief, it's not impossible to simultaneously focus on yourself and take care of the people around you. Self-love doesn't always mean undergoing extraordinary experiences all on your own — it's also about choosing the right people who can lift you up and add a deeper meaning to your already full life.

Friday, July 21, 2017