I am who I am

I’ve finished reading “The Fountainhead” yesterday after seeing the book or the author mentioned in 3 separate blogs in a space of 1 week, after never having heard of it all my life (I love to read, but I am really not that literary). I was barely into it for 20 pages before I had this OMG moment whereby I wondered why on earth did I not read it earlier. This is almost the book I have been waiting for all my life. Almost.

If you’re working in a creative field or you have issues reconciling your individuality with society, go read it now. The true depth of the book has to be experienced by the individual reader, but there were a few parts that touched the very core of my soul which I would like to write about.

The protagonist, Howard Roark is an architect. He is the what Ayn Rand, the author, thinks as the perfect man. The man that upholds his ideals no matter what. He believed so much in what he was doing, that it didn’t matter if nobody believed in him.

There was this part of the story whereby after a series of incidents whereby the society did everything it could to repel him, Howard had no work – he would rather remain idle and face the possibility of suffering, rather than to compromise of his ideals. His friend, very concerned, tried to advise him to compromise, just a little. Howard refused, and so his friend asked him what was he waiting for if he wouldn’t compromise?

Howard replied, “My kind of people”.

When I read that part, I just froze. I know exactly what he meant, because I too, have been waiting for “my kind of people”.

Howard Roark was everything that mainstream society hated. They thought of him as selfish, because he only cared about what he did and would not integrate himself into society (i.e. develop PR skills and do what other people expect). He believed in creating buildings that were functional, he refused to add a feature to his buildings simply for the sake of pure aesthetic. He was born ahead of his time and he was despised for it. Why?

“Throughout the centuries there were men who took first steps down new roads armed with nothing but their own vision. their goals differed, but they all had this in common: that the step was first, the road new, the vision unborrowed, and the response they received- hatred. the great creators- the thinkers, the artists, the scientists, the inventors- stood alone against the men of their time. every great new thought was opposed. every great new invention was denounced. the first motor was considered foolish. the airplane was considered impossible. the power loom was considered vicious. anesthesia was considered sinful. but the men of unborrowed vision went ahead. they fought, they suffered and they paid. but they won.” – Howard Roark / Ayn Rand

Considering this book was written more than half a century ago, I now realise that the issues that exist in our modern society now have probably existed throughout the history of mankind.

Ayn Rand’s believed that the man should be selfish in order to be truly selfless. It is man’s destiny to live up to his/her fullest potential, to create what he/she is truly capable of, unwavering in his/her vision, in order to share his/her greatest gifts with his/her fellow human beings. I may not have worded it right here and I don’t think I am equipped to do so. I agree with most of what she was trying to convey, only that I personally believe that the ideal world requires diversity. I believe in the concept of duality and I believe the individual only can exist because of the mass, just like how I believe you need to experience pain in order to fully experience joy.

I guess if I have read this book earlier in my youth, I may have saved myself a lot of pain. Pain of trying to integrate myself into the mainstream society instead of celebrating my individuality. Though I must say, I appreciate my individuality very much now, because of what I went through in order to preserve it.

For the past two weeks I seem to be undergoing some surreal reality that I find it hard to explain in words. I kept getting tested in many different situations, with people that exist in social circles that do not overlap each other. I got questioned for my beliefs, people trying to persuade me to see the light of their advice (which was kind and I appreciate), some trying to veer me off the path I was intent to take. Mostly out of good and ‘right’ intentions in their perspectives.

It was as though I was being asked, “red or blue pill” every other day. It was an interesting experience from my own observation because the more I was being tested and as I defended my beliefs, the more I grew in my conviction. I had plenty of opportunities to take the more comfortable and perhaps easier path. Yet I simply refused.

I no longer cared whether I could get people to believe in what I was doing, neither did I care whether they understood, or even respected my choices. I was someone who always looked for external validation and I needed a lot of it, but this time round, I just didn’t think it mattered anymore. I believed in what I was doing and that was enough. Of course, it made me appreciate the empathy I got, out of the very few who understood, even more. My kind of people.

Life amuses me. The moment I decided to give up control, the moment I stopped hoping for people to validate me, they start popping from nowhere.

Today, I simply feel very blessed. Blessed that somehow throughout the years of society’s conditioning I somehow, barely managed to remain true to myself. Blessed that my partner fully supports me. Blessed that I have a select few who is exactly the “my kind of people” I have been waiting for. Blessed for that hug a client gave me today, the same person who saw something in me that I myself couldn’t see, much less others. Blessed for that conversation I had in the evening because I could make a difference to someone else. And that someone else could make a difference to me.

Most of all, I am blessed that I seem to be finally able to feel comfortable in my own skin. For I am who I am, I live the life I want to lead. I cannot tell anyone else to live like me, neither can others tell me to live like them. This is the basic right of a human being – free will – that somehow I seem to have lost along the way. I take back that right of mine, today.

If one attends to the problems of humanity and commits oneself to solving them, the universe will care for that person the same way it cares for a flower or a bird. – Buckminster Fuller