Student Writing Prompt – “Individual/Connection”

Which is more important — to be an individual, or to be close to others? Why?

Obviously, both of these choices are important. In class, we talk about the benefits and drawbacks to both individuality and connectedness.

Personally, I think that while it’s important to maintain your individuality, it’s more important to be connected to others. Humans are social creatures. Even those of us who are introverted and enjoy spending time alone benefit from interacting with others. The opportunity to help other people, the benefit of being needed, cannot be overstated. Likewise, we can accomplish more with the help of others than we can on our own.

Stories often deal with this choice, as it’s one that we commonly face. Do we go along with the restaurant choice that most of our friends seem interested in, or advocate for the restaurant we prefer and encourage everyone else to try it out? How much weight do we give to requests or recommendations from our family members? How old should children be when they are expected to help out with small chores instead of doing what they want?

In Sylvia Plath’s “Initiation,” the main character chooses to go through mild hazing in order to prove herself worthy of being included in a popular sorority. In Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, the conspirators must work together to develop the plan to remove Caesar from power. After the murder, the triumvirate cooperates to consolidate power in Rome, while simultaneously jockeying for power among themselves.

I tend to see humans as inherently selfish; if nothing else, for self-preservation. It’s important to remind ourselves that setting aside our own desires for the benefit of others can ultimately benefit us as well.

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