As a society, we hate followers. We call leadership a skill and positive attribute. There are seminars and conferences and self help books to turn followers into leaders. Motivational speakers and business owners praise leaders and insult followers, as if it would be possible to lead without them.
I am a follower. I was raised to someday lead my grandmother’s cult, but to follow her until then. While I learned some oratory and administrative skills, what I really mastered was obedience. I learned to relax when someone else is in charge, to trust them to know better than I do what’s right for me and the world.
I’ve learned some independence since leaving the cult, although I’m still years behind. I can take care of myself for awhile but the stress of it gets to me. When I am sickly or scared or uncertain of my future, I feel less capable to make good decisions, to do the right thing. I don’t trust myself with much responsibility.
That’s when I want a cult leader, no matter how bad I know that would be for me. I want someone strong and smart and wise and charismatic to figure things out and tell me the answer, simplify this complex world into something I can understand. I want order and direction, clarity and purpose. I want to be prepared for the coming storm and not feel all alone.
In short, I want to join a cult. I want to be swept up on a wave of good feeling and carried into the arms of my savior. This emotional response to an uncertain future is a direct consequence of my childhood conditions. My native tongue is cult speak. Nothing else can worm its way into my heart so completely.