You're Not Special, You're a Jackass
We are coming at this from a conservative classical liberal point of view, in which (to plagiaphrase someone) individuality is freedom lived. But one might just as easily reverse the terms and say: freedom is individuality lived. It should go without saying that you are only truly free when you are yourself. Otherwise, who is free? And for what?
What is freedom? The individual. What is the individual? Freedom.
However, freedom is not at all synonymous with an absence of constraint, which would immediately reduce to nihilism. Rather, genuine freedom is always freedom for. Thus, we may speak of the "yoke of freedom"; or, wisely crack that man is condemned to freedom (and to truth, which really rubs insalt to the injury).
Actually, we prefer "liberty," which is perhaps the second most important Raccoon macro-value after Truth. And in fact, you cannot have one without the other, for one must be free to discover truth, and truth is what sets one free; this is why the compulsory truths of, say, political correctness, or of reductionistic Darwinism, involve an intrinsic contradiction. To say that "I am a contingent assemblage of selfish genes" is to say that "I am a moron. Please ignore me."
You might say that Truth + Liberty = Authentic Being. Being that the left denies absolute or transcendental truth, we can have nothing in common with them. Or, we have in common a fallen self which we re-cognize and they don't.
And being that they believe in positive liberties granted by the state instead of negative ones protected by the state, there is again no common measure between us. In exchange for political power, the leftist substitutes for timeless truth the petty dictates of time-bound political correctness, which strangles the individual and nourishes the hardened collective ego.
Belief in permanent truths results in the ordered liberty, or "disciplined mischief," of the Raccoon. To deny them results in mere horizontal license, and in a system that cannot be sustained. To the extent that such freaks appear "unconventional," it it is in a blandly predictable and drearily conformist manner (the "herd of independent minds"). There is nothing individual, much less creative, about a Madonna and her legions of cultural spawna. She can only engage in a kind of reactionary parasitic "anti-normotic" illness that mimics actual creativity and true selfhood. How daring! Life reduced to one long wardrobe malfunction.
Most of these dramatic deviations and disturbances may appear to be signs of "empowerment," but are really just another form of psychic slave rebellion from a self that is the actual slaver. Bollas writes of how certain homosexual's "adornment in exaggerated representations of the subjective element can be a defiance of the normotic way of life. Where the normotic parent may have stressed 'reasonable' thinking, the homosexual may espouse the superiority of anti-reason. Where the normotic parent never tolerated the controversial, the homosexual may become perversely addicted to collecting controversies."
Bollas adds that compulsive sexual promiscuity among many homosexuals "has the character of a material phenomenon, and is in part an inverted representation of the normotic illness." Honest and self-aware homosexuals will know exactly what Bollas is referring to. The rest will feel victimized, which is to take a secret pleasure in participating in one's own auto-subjection. It is also abnormal, so you can't win. Or whine. Check mate.
If we take a godseye view and consider the world a work of art, the genuine artistic co-creator is an archetypal example of freedom lived, or of potential actualized, at least in the aesthetic sphere.
For example, in a banalogy I have used before, I am "free" to play the saxophone, but not in any meaningful way, unless I undergo the years of discipline it takes to transcend mere freedom and transform it into something higher. Although a cosmic master of sonic vibration is much more constrained than I am when he places the sax in his blowhole, those musical constraints -- or boundary conditions -- are precisely analogous to the intrinsic truths that allow oneself to ascend to its proper soul station.
Just so, to deny the intrinsic spiritual truths that in-form the soul is like trying to play the sax without harmony, melody, chords, rhythm, pacing, etc. But conversely, to only conform to these moral truths in a rigid, exterior way, without realizing and assimilating their inner meaning, can result in a superficially good and decent person, but still, something will be missing... *cough* romney *cough*...
That something is the true self. And for the true self, truth, virtue, and beauty fundamentally involve consciousness of a plane of reality, not conformity to a rigid exterior model. I don't just want my son to "be good." Rather, I want him to know, understand, and love goodness. Nor do I want him to take the easy path of the tenured, and merely obtain good grades without being intelligent.
Our essentialist idea of a true self parts ways with the existentialists in all their variety, who believe that the self is entirely self-made, so to speak. First of all, the true self cannot possibly be self-made -- any more than you could make your liver or kidneys. It is an organ, except that it is a multi-dimensional organ that transcends space and time, at least to a certain extent. But the fact that the self may know timeless truth proves that its ultimate source is outside time.
Like all other organs, the self requires time in order to reach maturity. But the function of the self is much more complex compared to, say, the kidneys, which mostly have the one task of filtering blood.
The self, on the other hand, has the ongoing task of metabolizing and synthesizing internal, external, past, present, and transpersonal experience into a higher subjective unity. This is why you might say that the self is man's first "hyperdimensional virtual organ," so to speak. It is just as busy as the heart or lungs, except that it accomplishes its feats in a higher space that obviously exceeds three or four dimensions (cf. the phenomenon of dreaming).
In turn, this is why the normotic personality may appear outwardly normal, even while living a life in which he systematically denies the sufficient reason for man's existence. From the human standpoint, it can never be "normal" to be a radical atheist or leftist, for both of these categories prevent man from discovering transcendent truth and becoming what he is -- from actualizing his real nonlocal potential.
Yesterday I mentioned the "destiny drive," which is to the self as final cause is to biology. Biology is incoherent in the absence of final causation, in that each organ obviously has a function to fulfill within the context of the whole, and failure to achieve this function is the very definition of pathology. In other words, we can only know about sickness because there is a thing called "health" (which with good reason is etymologically related to wholeness).
But what was the Self designed to do? Well, if you are a Darwinist, it is a moot question, because the self reduces to biology, which in turn reduces to physics, which has no purpose at all. This down-and-backward looking metaphysic hurls the self against the dead rocks of the cosmic past (HT Vanderleun), so it can actualize no intrinsically real future, i.e., destiny.