Before I get into this, I just want to give a heads up that this isn’t going to be some dissertation about my personal views while I put down those who have opinions different from mine. This is simply my story about how having the political beliefs I did in the area in which I grew up ultimately helped mold my views and approaches to certain issues as a freshman in college.

So let’s start from the beginning: I was born in California but grew up in Carmel, Indiana, a suburb of Indianapolis. My experience growing up in Carmel was nothing short of your typical upper middle class Midwestern childhood: great schools, plenty of opportunities for extra-curriculars, relaxing vacations, etc. Overall, it was the perfect place to set me up for a successful high school career allowing me to attend one of my dream schools for college. However, when it came to politics and the majority of the community’s views on certain issues, that’s where problems arose. See, my family and I are pretty liberal when it comes to politics and social issues, and in Carmel a great majority of the community and my peers in high school were conservative.

I remember getting in long arguments at recess in 2nd grade over the Bush-Kerry election in 2004. There really wasn’t a lot of intellectual thought put into these arguments; it was me against several other kids, all just repeating what our parents had been saying. Gradually, as we progressed into middle school and high school, we became more informed on the issues of course, but there still was a divide between the conservative majority and liberal minority in my school.

Although I lived in an area that was not necessarily conducive with my views, my parents always encouraged me to stand behind what I thought and said, and those words really resonated with me towards the end of my senior year when I was sorting some things out personally and preparing to go to college. I realized that yes, I walk a vastly different path in terms of my views than the majority of people in my community, but at the same time, always being able to stand behind what I believe and have an intelligent conversation with someone who disagrees with me is a valuable asset to have in life. I am very fortunate to have realized this before coming to college.

Coming to Boston for school was definitely a breath of fresh air in terms of the political climate. The liberal, diverse environment and craze about Bernie Sanders’ campaign was everything a young liberal guy from the Midwest could hope for. However, only a little into the year did I realize that I was now a part of this vast majority of people with the same views as mine, and that while it definitely is a cool environment to be a part of, I believe ultimately it creates a great amount of pressure for students who are maybe not sure where they stand on the issues at this point in their lives or believe the complete opposite.

College is a time of questioning, discussing, and finding out who you are, and no one should give into trends or majority belief if they do not believe the same way or are not sure what to think. Because I grew up in area where I did not give into the trends or believe the same way as the majority, this has allowed me to see this phenomenon quite clearly in college, and I hope that by telling this story, freshman reading this can understand that it’s okay to not think the same way as others or agree with what the majority around them believes. Take a risk and question what’s politically correct and calmly explain why you believe a certain way if someone questions you. Our lives are stories that are beginning an entirely new series with college, and it all starts with each person formulating their own, unique outlooks on life.

So as a current freshman, I still have pretty similar views to the ones I did when I was growing up, but they are always open to be questioned and discussed with others. It’s vital that we all hold different views and opinions and are capable of listening to one other. This ultimately fosters a more intellectual community and can lead to innovative ideas that could potentially affect our future for the better. 

Lead Image Credit: MaryLB, Getty Images/iStockphoto