Difference of Opinions

Being a teenager is all about learning to accept people's ideas as they are. College is a place where debates are supposed to happen naturally and flourish to provide a safe space for different viewpoints to be heard. Everyone is entitled to their own opinions, that's a prerogative we all deserve. It comes down to when people are telling you you're wrong because you don't agree when strife may be created. It's just a difference of opinion.

When I look at at myself in retrospect I realize I'm a complicated person. I'm an unsolvable enigma of epic proportions. Everyone acts like there are these factors, signs and regulations that determine how we should act. Yes, there are social norms that govern our encounters with people but they are constraints that don't have to always be strictly followed. All the different identities U carry point me in drastically directions for who I should be and how I should portray myself. My racial status as African-American leads me to be liberal, but my socio-economic status as upper class means I should be conservative. I know I'm not defined by any one contributing factor. I'm a complex person who may surprise you. Most people expect me to be uppity, pretentious, or raggedy rough, or mean or extra-generous, or athletically talented, and the list goes on. Honestly, I'm being me to best if my ability. Why do other people get to day how I should act, speak, dress or feel? I would not want to place my standards of living on anyone else, then why do other people place judgement on others. I'm not saying I'm not judgmental (believe me I am - it's kind of the entirety of my teenage existence) but I prefer to keep my personal opinions of people to myself (who am I to proclaim my condemnations of people just because I don't agree with things they may say or do?). It's crazy to think about just how much animosity can come from something as a simple disagreement. Things can escalate to go from having an intellectual conversation to name-calling and unsightly exchanges just because someone doesn't share your point of view. It's absolutely ridiculous, we're all entitled to own ideas and bring different perspectives to the world, why does someone always to have to be and subsequently the other person wrong? If you don't get why they think something then you must be dull, dim-witted, or just plain stupid - but actually though, that kind of sense does that make (I'll tell ya, none whatsoever). College is place where you're tasked with growing into a conscious adult which means being able to have an actual conversation and accept that a lot of the time there will be a difference of opinions.

You're probably wondering what spurred this post. I'll let you know - lately my suitemates, Jimmy, Joel and Patrick have been having these super deep conversations about literally everything and kind of what we believe in its plainest form. Let me just say, it's been more than refreshing to talk about the controversial topics like gender roles, child-rearing (don't ask, I just want to be a dad so bad), and religion in a safe space where we all have the capacity to respect one another's ideas. It's funny because I'm almost always in the minority (in like every way possible, lol - JK but for real) and my point of view seems to be a complete opposite of all of theirs. It's good because I mean that's what college is for, you have time (well we should have been doing homework, but this is like iCarly when you just never do homework) to sit around and debate things. The key to this whole process is at the end of our talks, even if it gets heated, we're not offending one another or having that difference of opinion doesn't constitute some sort of lack of intellectual capacity in the other person. We can agree to disagree. My viewpoints are always conservative as hell, like I'm a very traditional guy, whereas the others are more modern with their positions. That's just me - doesn't make me any less credible as a person. We've asked each other some hard hitting and tough questions. Joel posed the question to me that if a legislative bill was proposed in Ohio (my home state, O-H-I-O; like Drew Carey only better) to legalize same-sex marriage how would I vote. I mean, that was hard as heck - because me as a person can say it doesn't affect me (people can go get married and do whatever with whomever they want to, my opinion on their love-lives is irrelevant) but religious I'd be apt to say no. I went with no, and did that change their opinion of me - maybe or maybe not. I mentioned that I'd want a son as a firstborn (if I could choose) and I was just talking about how he could be a protector and look out for any other children you have. Patrick argued that girls are and perfectly capable of taking care of themselves and I agreed but extra protection or to have an older brother who kind of knew the ropes and prevented your daughter from getting hurt wouldn't be bad. Then there's of course one of our big recurring ones - race, and racial identity. This one hits home with all of us because of ideas about it vary so greatly. I'm just adamant about the fact that when I look in the mirror I don't see a face of color looking back at me - I just see me. I don't see myself as different from my roommates (at least on the basis of a common shared humanity and skin color) but the rest of the world (aka America) would beg to differ. Identity, and the dominance of the heterosexual white male push some hot buttons in our suite. All I can say is, I'm so glad that each one of us has the courage to share our thoughts and bring something different to the conversation. At the end of the night if we can't come to a consensus, it's no big deal - just a difference of opinions. 

Let me just say that I seriously urge you to talk to people. Like actually talk to them. Find out what drives them, what makes them tick, and gets them going. College puts in this situation where everyone becomes an acquaintance and those deeply personal relationships are few and far between because no one wants to go past the surface pleasantry talk. That's not getting us anywhere, say something bold - share your opinion and be respectful of other's ideas. This the best opportunity you have to learn about people on the most personal of levels, be vulnerable. Share your insecurities and flaws, it's hard as heck but people will respect you for it. When the day is done, leave your judgments at the door - it's just a difference of opinion.
Being a teenager is all about being able to express yourself and be valid in your own right. We all have the privilege to be even able to share our opinions, not everyone in the world has that. We shouldn't take it for granted, and underestimate the power it can have as well. We're like young adults who pretty much know everything under the sun. Do your part to go there, to speak your mind and to be open and listen. You won't always concur, it's just a difference of opinions.

My blog post question for the day is ... what's something that people just never seem to talk about? Uhm, how about abortion. I'm pro-choice but for a kind of roundabout reason. I don't think anyone should have an abortion but if a woman wants to get an abortion she should be free to do so, and deal with the consequences. It's not up to me, but if people can live with the decisions they make then I'm pro-choice.

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