Being Conservative Doesn't Make You A Bad Person

I Think More Conservatively But That Doesn't Make Me An Awful Person

Stop being hypocritical and saying all voices matter when you shut mine down.

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I am not one to get involved in politics usually.

Yes, I am pursuing a degree in journalism at a politically active campus, but I am not pursuing a degree in political journalism.

I want to make people smile and laugh and talk about the good things in life. I am more of a cosmo Snapchat quiz or review a good book kind of journalist.

That being said, I am constantly surrounded by politics in my everyday life. People at my university love to talk about it and love to voice their opinions. And that is GREAT.

It is so good that young people are so involved and care about the state of our country.

Every voice should be heard and I find it inspiring how motivated and active the students at Syracuse University are. However, I am terrified to speak my opinion despite my school and peer's motto of everyone's voice deserves to be heard.

I am not a die-hard conservative.

I consider myself more of a moderate, if anything. I have certain things I lean more to the right on and I have certain things I lean more to the left on. But I definitely lean to the right more than I lean to the left.

Before coming to college, I grew up in a conservative Christian home and was surrounded by a community and town that was more conservative as well. I never got involved in anything and didn't talk about politics, however, I just accepted the fact that I was conservative because of how I grew up. I didn't really know what it meant.

Coming to college, I was introduced to a whole new world and boy was it terrifying.

I was surrounded by people who knew so much about current events and who really loved talking about politics. I was way out of my league and even reconsidered why I came here. I felt cornered and I wasn't educated enough to even know how to handle political conversations.

Throughout my freshmen year all I heard was "your voice matters," "we want to hear your voice," but I NEVER felt mine would even be taken seriously. Sure, I agreed with those who spoke in my classes and my friends sometimes, but there were also times I didn't.

Every time I thought about speaking out I knew I wasn't ready to handle the looks I would get and the judgment I would receive.

That first semester of college was a rough one for me.

Then, I started making more friends and getting more comfortable with the people around me. I started talking about my home life and sometimes they would bring up politics and I would say a thing or two sometimes. Every time I opened up, however, the others would get quiet or would start to get agitated.

If I am thinking or believing slightly different than people here are, I am not heard. I did not feel as if my voice matters and I still don't.

I felt like no one was on my side and I still feel that today.

A lot of my beliefs are supported by my faith, as well. That adds an entirely new element of judgment from others as well. When people find out I am Christian AND think more conservatively, I am immediately pegged as a judgemental person.

Voicing my opinion and beliefs does not mean I am shutting other people's down. Voicing my opinion should matter, and in the environment I am in now, I do not feel that it does. I am constantly afraid of voicing my opinions.

Everyone is entitled to their own opinions and beliefs. I am disappointed in how a community that promotes the importance of voice is so quick to judge me.

You have your beliefs and I have mine, that doesn't make me less of a person.

I hope that one day I find the strength to not be afraid of standing up for myself. I hope that others who are afraid to share their voice as well, no matter their beliefs, find strength.

I don't put you down for your beliefs, so stop putting me down for mine.

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Austin Alexander Burridge, Volunteer Advocate, Shares 3 Great Reasons to Volunteer and Help Others

Austin Alexander Burridge is an avid academic who studies Environmental Science at Winona State University and believes that work in the service of others is a key pillar to personal development.

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Sometimes it's easy for someone to adopt a "me, me, me" attitude. While focusing on oneself, a person may feel nice in the moment, but serving and helping others will bring lasting benefits. While there are many great reasons to serve and help others, there are three universal truths that resonate with volunteers around the globe.

Austin Alexander Burridge's 3 Reasons to Volunteer:

1. Accomplishment

Often, people fall into a trap of focusing on themselves when they are feeling down. Maybe someone did not get a job they wanted. Or perhaps a person gets dumped by an expected lifelong companion. Maybe someone feels they have underachieved after looking at Facebook and seeing great things a high school classmate has accomplished. When feeling down, helping others is a proven way to improve one's mood and attitude, and it can provide a sense of pride and accomplishment. The act of giving to those in need is an inherently good action and leaves people with a wonderful feeling of joy.

2. Gratitude

One can become more appreciative of life by serving others that have less. Whether volunteering at a soup kitchen, visiting the elderly at an assisted living center, or helping families after a natural disaster, service enables people to be grateful for what they have. Seeing people who have fewer advantages, especially those who are spirited and thankful for small things, allows one to realize just how fortunate he/she is in life.

3. Friendships

Volunteering is a great way to build meaningful friendships, not only with other volunteers but also with those who are served. One of the most profound and fascinating aspects of these relationships is how volunteers will learn from those served and vice versa. As these special bonds are built, they lead to impactful connections that last for years to come.

Of course, these are just a few reasons to volunteer and serve others. One can never go wrong by helping others as opposed to merely focusing on oneself. Volunteering invariably and inevitably contributes to personal growth, development, and satisfaction.

About Austin Alexander Burridge: Helping others has been of paramount importance to Austin, and as a part of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA), Austin gave back to the community around him. He also has participated in annual peanut butter drives, The Minnesota Sandwich Project for the Homeless and collected canned goods for local food shelters. Additionally, Austin has a passion for the environment, which he pursued when visiting the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador, and the Amazon Rain Forest while studying at the School of Environment Studies, which investigates ecological systems and their sustainability

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Terrors Behind "Toddlers & Tiaras" - Beauty Pageants Need To Go!

Why Honey Boo Boo is not the girl we should be idolizing...

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Honey Boo Boo is famous for her extravagant persona, extreme temper tantrums, overwhelming attitude, and intense sassiness. All of these qualities are shared by many other young girls who participate in beauty pageants - not just in "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo" but also in TLC's notorious "Toddlers & Tiaras," a show that depicts the horrors of little girls who have dedicated their childhood to winning the crown.

These shows, and the pageants they glorify do nothing but force girls to grow up too quickly, send negative messages to viewers and participants and pose health risks for the girls involved.

Therefore, beauty pageants for young girls should be abolished.

The hypersexualization that takes place in these pageants is staggering. Not only are young girls' minds molded into having a superficial view on beauty, but they are also waxed, spray-tanned, given wigs, retouched in pictures, injected with Botox and fillers, and painted with fake abs and even breasts.

Sexy is the goal, not cute. Girls of ages 2-12 wear skimpy clothing, accentuating only their underdeveloped bodies. A 4-year-old girl on "Toddlers and Tiaras" once impersonated Dolly Parton with fake breasts, another dressed as Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman (so basically, a prostitute), and another even pretended to smoke a cigarette to look like Sandy from Grease.

In Venezuela, people are so obsessed with pageants that they send their daughters to "Miss Factories," to train them to win. At these factories, underage girls undergo plastic surgery and hormone therapy to delay puberty in attempts to grow taller. In addition, they often get mesh sewn onto their tongues so that they are physically incapable of eating solid food. This idea of taking horrific measures to look slimmer is not unique to Venezuela. A former Miss USA explained that she would "slather on hemorrhoid ointment, wrap herself up with Saran wrap, and run on a treadmill with an incline for 30 minutes to tighten her skin and waist up." Many countries, including France and Israel have banned child beauty pageants because it is "hypersexualizing." Why has the US yet to follow in their footsteps?

Additionally, the pageants strip their young contestants of a childhood by basically putting them through harsh child labor. Oftentimes, girls as young as 18 months old participate in pageants. There is no way that a girl under 2 years old has the capacity to decide for herself that she wants to participate in a beauty pageant. Not to mention, education often takes a backseat in pageant girls' lives as long practice sessions interfere with sleep and homework. This causes long-term distress for the contestants, including widespread unemployment for former pageant girls.

Moreover, these pageants tie self-worth and self-esteem to attractiveness. They teach girls that natural beauty and intelligence are not enough, when in actuality they should be doing the opposite. In fact, 72% of pageant girls hire coaches to train girls to be more "attractive."

Finally, these pageants pose potent health risks for the girls competing. Not only do intense rehearsals interfere with their sleep cycles, but they are also impacted by the harmful methods taken to keep them awake. One example is Honey Boo Boo's "go go juice" - AKA a mixture of Mountain Dew and Red Bull. She is known for drinking this continuously throughout pageant days to stay awake and energetic - but the health risks associated with the drinks, let alone for such a young girl, are completely ignored.

And, the future health problems associated with pageantry cannot be looked past. Participating in beauty pageants as kids leads to eating disorders, perfectionism, depression - in fact, at least 6% suffer from depression while competing. "The Princess Syndrome," as Psychology Today calls it relates to a small study published in 2005 that showed that former childhood beauty pageant contestants had higher rates of body dissatisfaction. This sense of dissatisfaction can so easily be translated to more severe mental and physical health issues, including depression, anxiety, and eating disorders. The average BMI (Body Mass Index) of a Beauty Contestant in the US in 1930 was 20.8, which is universally in the middle of the "healthy" range. In 2010, it was 16.9, which is considered underweight for anyone.

So, despite the entertainment these shows and pageants provide, they should most definitely be stopped due to the immense amount of issues they cause for those involved and those who watch.

Although Honey Boo Boo is (sadly) considered one of America's sweethearts, her experience in pageantry has certainly not been a positive influence in her life nor in the lives of her fans - and this is the case for nearly all young pageant girls.

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