Does My Community Encourage Individuality?

Do Chinese people encourage individuality? Good question. Historically speaking, the answer is definitely "no." No, individuality was of no importance in China in the past. Instead, sacrificing one's personality for obeying a certain set of norms, such as working hard without complaint, was a main theme in Chinese people’s lives ever since ancient times. Consequently, historical figures were put into categories, and the standard for categorizing was pretty simple: Patriotic? Diligent? Loyal? Good, you’ll be a role model for future generations, and who cares what your personality was really like! As simple as putting on masks for Peking opera actors.

However, this idea is changing nowadays as young generations start to put more emphasis on individuality. For one thing, teenagers who are viewed as good students are no longer those who spend all their time studying, which was once seen as the only duty of students. In contrast to those "nerds," teenagers today have more diverse interests and show more concerns about the world outside their text books. Therefore, a test score is not the only standard for determining whether a student is good or not. Diversity in characteristics is not restrained, finally.

This trend is not totally approved, though. Bias still exists, especially among more conventional people. Even worse, some teenagers are far too extreme in their pursuit of individuality, leading to misbehaviors and hedonism. Perhaps what Chinese people truly need is not regaining the individuality that was once suppressed but a balance between restrictions and the freedom to express our individuality.

Yasi Zhu is a 16-year-old from Beijing, China. Her interests include reading, traveling, collecting coins, musicals, languages, running, horse riding, history, archeology, jigsaw puzzles, and daydreaming.