I am an almost 22 year old young woman in her senior year at a liberal arts college in Boston. I have two very supportive and loving parents who fortunately were financially capable to allow my sisters and I to pursue our passions- even though at times they were ever changing. I sit here to write this article after having taken a nap in my own bed in my apartment. I am very lucky and privileged. Not everyone has the life I have.
I grew up in a suburb just outside of Atlanta, Georgia, and up until moving to Boston at 18 for college, this was the only lifestyle that I knew. While I attended a decently diverse high school, the city I grew up in was mostly filled with people like me, families like mine, and nearly similar beliefs to those of my parents which seemingly became mine as well. I never knew anything different, and to be fair, there wasn't any reason for me to know anything else. I was happy, healthy, and so were the people around me.
That being said, I never felt like I had developed strong feelings or opinions towards anything. Maybe it has to do with my people pleasing attitude. Maybe it has to do with my conflict avoidance behavior. Or maybe even the fact that I truly don't know what I believe in. When I moved to college 3 years ago and was suddenly in an environment with all different kinds of people, particularly an environment of likeminded people- different minds from the ones I was used to. Suddenly, I was in a place where I was really going to have to examine how I feel. Not only that, there's a pretty big chance that it's going to offend someone one way or another- and this is very difficult for me.
I have noted as well, that there seems to be an extreme amount of pressure to believe in certain things depending on the environment you're in. When people feel passionate about something, it's easy to see things as an either or situation, you're with me or you're not kind of thing. Without getting into the election (there's enough of that on the internet already), I see blatant attacks coming from either side of the field calling the opposers stupid and ruination of our nation. It's hurtful for me to see these attacks. Because of the environment I was raised in and due to the environment I'm in now, I see both ends of the spectrum and it's very frustrating to see my family, friends, schoolmates, and neighbors- people I care for- torn apart but those different from them.
Now while I still am navigating how to feel about a myriad of different topics, and I'm sure I always will be on this journey of life, I have been able to make up my mind about a few things. And one of those things is how important perspective is. Think about it, part of the reason people believe the things they do is because they know nothing different. Maybe they, like myself for 18 years, have lived in the same kind of environment and surrounded theirselves with the same kind of people their whole lives. Maybe they can't understand how someone else may feel because that "someone else" is never someone they will meet. Now yes, some would say that "those people" need to get out and see the rest of the world, gain some knowledge and spend some time with people different than you. This might be true, but it cannot always be possible, and some people may never be open to it.
I, on the other hand, am one of those lucky people who have been able to see two completely different environments. Who love people with opposing views. Who has been able to gain some perspective. It has taken me awhile to realize and grasp this perspective, and especially it has taken me time to learn the value of it. But this perspective has helped make me a little less angry, a little less sad, a little opinionated, a little more understanding, and a lot more profound.
Perspective has been one of the most valuable lessons I have gained in my life. I'm still trying to figure it out. I'm still confused about so many different things and that is quite difficult. There is also a vast amount of people in this world whose perspective I may never get to gain (review first paragraph about my very privileged lifestyle!!). But I will say gaining even an ounce of perspective has made me a more empathetic and all out better person. I can't wait to see what the rest of life's perspectives have in store.