Growing up in southern Ohio, I was right smack in the nations “Bible Belt.” For those of you that do not know what the Bible Belt is, it is the areas of the southern and mid-western US and western Canada where Protestant fundamentalism is widely practiced. In these states there tends to be a higher amount of people who attend church and believe in God.
As a young child, I was always curious of where we came from and how we ended up on this round planet floating in space. As a small child, everyone is taught about God. Whether it be from your parents, your friends, or, in some cases, even your school.
Religion was never forced on me as a child. Being raised by two hippie grandparents, they never really talked about Religion. All through middle school I knew I was different from everyone else in my class. Everyone would come to school on Monday and talk about what they did in bible study, and how if you didn’t go you were sure to go to hell.
Through high school, I did go to church occasionally because I did not want to feel different than that of my peers. I was taught to almost be ashamed of myself if I did not believe in God, or if I didn’t go to church on Sundays. I spent my whole high school years hiding the fact that I didn’t really believe in God, and that I didn’t find myself to be religious. I thought that maybe one day it would just hit me and all of a sudden I would be like the rest of the people in my school.
Going into college I was still not sure where I stood on religion. I knew that I didn’t like the thought that one person lived above the stars and the sky and said, “Let there be light” and here we are. It sounds like a fairy tale I read while growing up. I still couldn’t wrap my mind around the fact that people actually believed this. Not only did they believe this, but they based their everyday living off of this.
I started my classes and took civilization and literature where there was a lot of discussion of the Bible. I felt completely stupid because I did not know the stories of the Bible like the other students did. I thought going to college I would finally be free of the Bible, and God. I found that people in my class that identified themselves as Christians to think that it was only their religion that was right.
What about everyone else? What made Christians the sole people to say this is the right way and this is how everyone should believe. It infuriated me. This is when I finally became comfortable to say that I was an Atheist and I didn’t identify with any religion. I wish there was more of an opportunity for me to be who I truly am while growing up.
So, this is me telling you, it’s okay to not be like everyone else. Don’t be anything that doesn’t make YOU happy.