People like labels. They're comfortable, familiar, convenient. I used to like them, too. I used to think of myself as a good Objectivist. It was part -- perhaps most -- of my identity. Indeed, as a teenager I had a strongly dogmatic approach to Rand's ideas; partly this was because I immersed myself deeply in her works at an early age (I first read The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged at age 13, read all of her books at least once by my 15th birthday, read The Fountainhead 9 times and Atlas Shrugged 6 times by the time I was 18, etc.) while having no strong counterbalancing interests or involvements (other than music). I would say that my thoughts and feelings about Rand and her philosophy were religious in a negative sense for about 6 years, in that I subordinated my own interests to the interests of Rand's philosophy. For example, I stopped playing music because I thought it was too emotional and therefore not in accordance with Randianism. My spirituality was not focused on my own life and fulfillment, but on adherence to Rand's philosophy. This approach became deeply engrained in my psyche. Once I ever so slowly began to question that way of being and to open up to reality and experience (mainly through realizing the richness of the history of art and ideas, and through love relationships with two extremely patient women during college, and one afterward), it took me a long time to recover my senses and to regain a healthy approach to life. It is those years that I term a period of "recovering Randianism" (itself a label), because I had not yet fully shed the negative religion I'd acquired until rather late in the process. I see the end result as having become an individuated human being -- as I like to put it, not a Randian at the core of my being but instead an individual who has been strongly influenced by Rand's ideas. Thus I would say that my current philosophy or religion is individualism, not in the sense of yet another label or "ism" but in the sense of focusing on my own fulfillment and spiritual development in life (which approach is in my view seamlessly integrated with a strong humanist element that also reveres the fulfillment of all individuals).
Peter Saint-Andre > Journal