A Letter to Individualism


Dear Individualism,

Hi, you confuse me. As you’ve been my mentor since I was one day old, I don’t think I need to introduce myself. You were with me when I spoke my first words, when I took my first steps, when I got into my first school bus, when I started high school, when I went to Europe for a year on exchange, when I applied for post-college jobs. You’re with me right now. But I’m writing anyways. Because I have some stuff to ask you.

I never consciously recognized your existence until about three years ago. Did you know that? You’re like this weird, meta, floating mind control ghost. You’re almost like a religion. People go through their entire lives not having any idea you exist, yet you’ve guided them every step of the way (even when they’re destitute). You’re a little like God.

I’m getting off-topic. About the stuff I had to ask. You know how you taught me that I was “special?” That I could do anything if I put my mind to it? That I had something inside of me that made me superior to everyone? That it was my destiny to rise to the top of a modern tribe, my calling to be the best [something] in [field]? Is all that stuff actually true or is it just cultural dogma? I can’t tell if it’s the way I should be seeing things anymore.

Individualism, I’m lost. I sort of believe that I’m special, like you told me. I sort of think that I’m better than a lot of people. That my destiny surpasses all other destinies. You gave me that belief, and I don’t know if I’ll ever get rid of it completely. But reality and the despair of high expectations sometimes run counter to what you’ve taught me. And existentialism. What about existentialism?

What this letter’s really about, Individualism, is that I tentatively want out of our relationship. Because I think what you’re doing to me at this point in my life is labeling some cause and effect sequences as failures and others as successes. You’re making me think clichés are real. You’re making me see my life through all these win/lose narratives and it’s fucking me up in the head.

I don’t know if this is how it’s supposed to be. Do I really have to be the “best”? Am I really that “special?” What does that even mean? Am I really better, in some way, than everyone else? Because that sorta makes me completely unsatisfied every time I’m not perfect. Every day I don’t receive the Noble Prize for Awesome. Every minute one of your clichés doesn’t play out. Every situation that I have to categorize into one of two of your narratives.

Individualism, I think your presence is causing a lot of despair. I think it’s good that you create things like motivation and drive, and I know some positive stuff has happened via your influence. I know this. You helped me when I was young. But I think cool stuff can come from other ways of seeing the world. That motivation doesn’t need to be in the name of fulfilling one’s destiny as talented and great and superior. That I don’t need to achieve a worldview’s definition of “success” (can we actually just stop saying that word? It’s becoming meaningless).

So I’m not sure, but I think there are other ways to do this. No offense to you, and I’m still sort of undecided, but I think I want to be done with you. I’m unsure if it’s possible. Anyway, I hope you fare well with the whole forthcoming end of Western Society and everything. Interested to see how that works out for you.

Goodbye forever (theoretically),


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