A Strange Dichotomy

When you’re a child, all you want is to grow up. To be able to sit at the adult table. To be able to go on that ride you’re too short for. To be able to drive. To be able to consider yourself a “big kid,” whatever that is. To not have to listen to what your parents say. Essentially, you want to be independent. To be your own person, make your own decisions, and live your life as you see fit.

This idea, while being the natural progression associated with growing up, changes when you start considering significant others. Suddenly, being accounted for by another doesn’t sound so bad. Neither does making decisions without simply your own input. Instead of being alone in the world going your own way, you start desiring the presence of another in your life. But the idea of individuality remains. In short, you’re kind of stuck.

Why is it that part of us strives for individuality, and another for cooperation and companionship? We seem to have this inherent internal disagreement. Thinking societally doesn’t help either. Part of society tells us to be ourselves, to go into the world our own person and forge our own path. Another part tells us that finding someone and settling down is the way to go. Sure, an argument can be made for keeping these two ideas chronologically separated, to be your own person, free, in your younger years, and leave settling down for later. Sometimes it just isn’t that simple.

This oddity isn’t restricted to relationships. We humans have a tendency to settle into groups. Of course, extroversion/introversion is a spectrum, and we each have our own desires, but in general, we like having friend groups. Part of us may want to follow the same friend group through life, moving to the same city after college, maybe even to the same apartment a la countless sitcoms. Another part may want to move to a strange city, perhaps foreign, and try our hand at something new. We may even want to travel the world, never sticking around one place too long. Why do our desires contradict?

This strange dichotomy seems to be an intrinsic part of life; that we will naturally find ourselves disagreeing within. Perhaps it does follow a more chronological path, and the balance of desires changes over time. Still, I like to think that there will always be a bit of both, that we’ll always have some kind of struggle. In some way, we may always be dissatisfied with what we have, which, to be fair, is a very humanistic trait. If we’re comfortably with another, we may long for a bit of individuality. If we’re alone, we’ll probably crave the company of another. Maybe we’ll find our spot and this will turn into a non-issue. Maybe we’ll always have a bit of a struggle in one way or another. But that’s