“A group is extraordinarily credulous and open to influence, it has no critical faculty.”
~ Sigmund Freud
One must be conscious of the contagious effect of the crowd: it influences our decision-making processes, our beliefs, and our daily lives in ways that go criminally unnoticed in modern day society. One must also acknowledge that while the individual experience is foremost and invaluable, one exists in a space and time that must be taken into account. Humans are essentially social beings: total retreat and abstinence from the crowd is not only impossible but detrimental. A balance must be struck, one that facilitates individual growth whilst reaping the benefits of community membership and the pleasures of conversation. From time to time, it is useful to retreat into solitude, using such a space to re-calibrate yourself and reflect on your current state of being. Eventually, however, one must inevitably return to the world, and take one’s place within it.
The development of the inner self acts as a counter-balance to the persona, to the mask that we all, without exception, wear in society. There is no exemption from wearing such a mask: it is an absolute necessity for one to function in a community. Do not be ashamed of it; the persona, too, can be developed and tailored to one’s liking, and does not necessarily need to be in stark contrast with the inner self. That being said, the development of a calm, reserved, and objective (insofar as one can be objective seeing life through only their own lens) inner self will facilitate a keen sense of personal awareness. This awareness will, in a sense, allow you to see yourself from a third person view, enabling the identification of your tendencies, your faults, your strengths and your limitations as they manifest in society. Honest self-reflection is imperative; journalling helps. However, as all humans must, you must return to the crowd.
“As soon as you trust yourself, you will know how to live.”
~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Retreat, return, but do not return as you were.