We were taught to gravitate towards isolation. The way modern culture works is to praise self-reliance, favoring stories of heroes and personal might over that of anything else. Stories like Hercules, Mulan, Rocky, Taken, The Matrix, e.t.c. all glorify taking a stand and being able to succeed all by yourself to the point that it has become the most desirable trait you can have. All our lives people have solidified this idea in our minds. Sure, they try to teach us teamwork as well, but in the same breath they reward us for succeeding without any help. While we used to value community, family, and the village mentality, we are taught that being able to stand on your own two feet and get where you want to go in spite of everyone else (as opposed to because of the help of everyone else) is what makes you a valuable person, be it a man’s man or a strong, independent woman.
The most we are taught about community is to be courteous to our neighbors and strangers, but never to rely on or even ask them for help unless you are in dire straits, in which case the favor must be re payed, preferably two-fold to show that you have now come far enough by your self to be able to help those who helped you without a second thought. Never should it cross our minds that a kind deed is simply a kind deed that was payed to us with no expectation of return. Oh no, it must be re payed. And look at where it leaves us. Successful, alone, in the top room of an ivory tower. Safe, surrounded by the structure you’ve spent so much energy building, lording over the other villagers and towers. A sight to behold, to aspire towards. Something parents point at and tell their children “You could have that some day if you work hard. You could achieve that. That is desirable.” They say that because they have never been, and must assume it’s better because you’re in that beautiful tower that’s so high up. Or because they have been and are still so deeply disillusioned by their “success” they want the next generation to have what they had.
But the truth is, it’s lonely. And it only makes you desire loneliness all the more because that empty feeling at the top makes you think “I must not have built high enough.” But the higher you go, the harder it is to remember how it feels at the bottom. The grass, the sun, the wind; no, that is for the weak. You follow what they told you and you will have a happy productive life exactly how they planned for you. But that is never what a heart wants. A heart wants to love and hate and hurt and cry and laugh and sing and feel that it is at the mercy of something bigger. It wants to flow with emotion so natural and raw and that even happiness can bring tears. But you’re told that’s wrong, not in so many words, but that’s what they’re teaching you.
So you isolate. So you can think, and feel, and nurse that dying flame in your chest that society has tried so hard to snuff out so you don’t get hurt and can just live out your life as painlessly as possible. You isolate so you can make the world around you make sense, so you can feel that surge of emotion of having achieved by yourself, because it’s one of the only feelings left to you. And then you look around and see all the other stories of literally everyone else you know, all singular hero stories about what they have overcome. So why do they all seem like assholes? Because they were all taught to believe that they have achieved great things and they have done those things by themselves, and they should be glorified for it. No matter what it is, if they did it all by themselves, they should be praised for it. That’s why people who had it bad look up at the smug people at the top and wonder, “Why do they act like they’ve accomplished so much!? Look at everything I’ve been through! They haven’t done a damn thing next to me!”
Well they have. They had their own obstacles and though they may not have been as treacherous or numerous as your own, they had obstacles that they overcame, all by themselves, which is commendable in their eyes. And it’s normal to feel that anger at them. They let you feel that too. Because it drives you to overcome more, to isolate more, to fight more, to climb more, to build more until your tower, from it’s jagged foundation to it’s smooth glass top, is larger than theirs. And then they want you to feel accomplished. That’s how modern society works. That’s how they want you to feel. Well, it’s wrong. Everyone feels exactly the same way, just not at exactly the same time or because of the exact same things. This is not how people are meant to be. This is not how communities are supposed to act. This is not how you are meant to live. This is not how a heart grows. This is not how a soul finds fulfillment. This is wrong, it is very, very wrong, and it’s up to you to do something about it.