Hey everyone. This is my first post here. I'm also quite new to Objectivism - I have read Anthem, and am half-way through The Fountainhead. I'm not at the point of calling myself an Objectivist for various reasons, but I have moved politically from a left-wing position to more pro-capitalist and libertarian over the last few years, and enjoy regularly listening to some Objectivist speakers and podcasts online.
The main issue I am struggling with at the moment is my social life. Alongside valuing self-sufficiency and individualism, I do also feel the need for a strong, if small, like-minded social community (not that these things are necessarily opposed, but I feel I'm in a process of understanding how they should properly intersect/interact). One of the greatest needs I have is being able to discuss ideas in the real world and have the other party at least listen to me openly and not label me as something nefarious.
I live in the UK, and work in the creative industry. There is a strong leftist/socialist sentiment here, and a hatred and disdain of anything seen as right-wing, of big business and corporations, even of our own company. In my office it is basically assumed that everyone is at least anti-Conservative (which effectively makes you pro-Labour). There is a general consensus that premises from feminist theory are true and that identity-politics ideology is moral, and that anything that might criticise or oppose these is immoral and bad.
This, of course, makes it almost impossible to speak my true opinions without socially ostricising myself. I feel myself with pent up frustration at wearing a mask all day every day, having to ignore comments and stay silent in group conversations because I’m the sole person who has a divergent opinion. It’s not a good way to live. I’m almost daily sitting with a group of people for 30 minutes during lunch break and don’t say a word because I haven’t agreed or related to one single thing that has been said, but they all agree with each other. Work social events are more painful to get through.
My dilemma is this:
Part of me desperately wants to embody Howard Roark, and not care what anybody thinks of me. I think that living authentically by speaking my true values is more important. However, when I actively engage in conflict it usually results in physical anxiety symptoms and not being able to focus on what I’m saying. The words don’t come out properly. I’ve struggled with this since childhood. So I’d rather just stay quiet and get on with my work, as it’s easier for everybody that way. But I’m starting to realise that maybe it’s not so easy for me…. And I should put my own self-interest first.
However, it appears that if I were to decide to start saying my true thoughts, I would only ever be saying something they perceive as negative or detracting from the conversation, and that doesn’t seem like it would be in my self interest, as I want to be able to get through my work day feeling that I’m on a positive footing with my colleagues. I could sit alone at lunch, but again this may result in them perceiving me as willingly avoiding them and foster resentment/awkwardness.This also wouldn’t solve the overall issue of not having anyone to express my true opinions with or discuss ideas openly with.
The problem extends beyond my work situation. Almost every other friend I have is a socialist or left-winger. This isn’t in itself an issue, but it seems like those who hold those values, also hold values of another flavour which means we have less in common in our passions and views of the world than we used to. In general, there is a very pessimistic, negative view of the world and of life. And especially of human beings. Whereas I’m in a new mindset that there are so many positive things about our world, and about life, and about the potential of human beings. I find that it’s difficult to fully express this mindset when surrounded by people who usually only respond with negativity. It is tiring and discouraging when each time I attempt to offer a counter-view or something positive, it is shot down by something negative.
Overall: I’m lonely, and feeling alienated. I wonder if this is a normal thing to feel when becoming interested in these sorts of radically non-mainstream ideas (ironic that Rand’s detractors think her ideas support some sort of status quo). I’m curious if others here have experienced this too. I have long-term plans to leave my job and find a better community of people, but how long that is going to take is uncertain right now, and with how strong these sentiments are in the creative industry, I could move from this company into the same thing in another. I’m really just curious about the experience of others and if people have any advice on ways to deal with this type of situation. Thanks to anyone who might have insight to share