In order to individuate you need to come to the realisation that you are an  individual. This can be a slow, or a quick process, depending on many things. 

My guess is this process is easier the further you deviate from the norm. Also, it’s easier depending upon how much your parents constantly tell you that you are special, different, more entitled than the others*.

For example, let’s say most Americans like their coffee a certain way. It might be collectively referred to as “normal coffee”. But have you ever tasted that hot-plate roasted stuff? There’s nothing normal about it. If isolated in that colony, I would have individuated my ass of ages ago. 

As another example, let’s imagine I am an only child in a family comprising two parents and four grandparents. All of them might be telling me I am a gifted and beautiful child and that I should win a trophy for my guitar playing, my football skills, my special skills in math. I would without meaning to distinguish myself from the masses as somehow superior*. 

During my own process of individuation, I have without meaning to discovered how far I deviate from any given societal normal. Whilst my parents did lavish praise it also came with a good dollop of keep-your-head down-because-we-are-just-normal-folks. 

Following individuating from a communal norm, it might be that new “normals” feel as if they have been created but this is a ruse. Or a red herring at least. There is no normal coffee for me. There are no foods I like or dislike. There are just random spots of experience that will change over time and depending on circumstance. Any attempt at categorisation is at risk of missing the point because the point is experience “individually” rather than communal conformism. It’s almost to say that it shouldn’t be referred to as individuation under these circumstances and instead should be post-collectivism. Or some other wanky word. 

Some commentators think there are two stages to individuation a beginning and then post-individuation. Post-individuation is said to be the stage at which the mind cares little for the opinions of others and instead is completely free to experience as an individual. There are no feelings of embarrassment and or shame in such a mind-set, because that would require some sort of self-reflection (and comparison to a norm). You can find this in many Gen Y’ers who have naturally individuated following their over-coddled maturation processes. With parents emphasising their specialness*. In fact, I think this Gen Y associated trait is true and pure individuation. Any deviant from it towards self-reflection and introspection is actually a period of pre-individuation which is actually post-collectivism. It’s a period that some of us go through having properly experienced the collective phase, and exists as a stage as we journey onward.

*this opinion has changed see blog individuation and globalisation – a correlation   


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