o-individuality

Changing your views of the world is a natural part of growing up as you become more educated and explore your individuality. 

I grew up in a small town where political flags were hung outside of homes, the same news channel was rolling on almost every television and political propaganda was plastered on highway signs. Most people had one way of thinking. 

Whether it be a red state or a blue state that one grows up in, they tend to learn and hold the same views that their parents, neighbors and peers have. Some will form different views as they grow older, and some remain the same. Neither way is right or wrong, but it is important to be able to see both sides of every situation and form your own opinion about the matter. 

I’ve learned that with the combination of leaving your hometown, entering higher education and being able to mature and grow in your own individuality, changing your views of the world is natural. 

Forming different views and opinions is not a one hundred percent certainty when it comes to growing up; rather, if it does happen, it should be embraced with an open mind to further explore and should not be immediately pushed away. 

I am incredibly fortunate to be able to attend an out-of-state college that is a bit above my means. It’s not super far from my hometown, but it’s far enough to where I feel I can learn and prosper in a different way than before. 

I can not only attribute this to simply growing older, learning about myself more and being in a different location, but also to being surrounded by a wide variety of people who come with different backgrounds, stories and ideas. 

It’s incredibly refreshing to finally be able to see and hear about both sides of every issue and have the resources and open-mindedness to look more into each one. Being open-minded is another important attribute to growing into your individuality and really asking yourself what you think about a certain topic. 

I now have different opinions on many issues that I once thought of in a certain way. Of course, engaging in personal research along with the process of growing up, gaining more critical thinking skills and becoming more well-informed have contributed to my developing opinions. It takes a positive, open mind to not only allow these views to change, but also to see them at all. 

It is not a secret that people luxuriate in being right. We can especially see this in the political climate of today. I think one cause of the hostility brought on by many people is simply being headstrong in their beliefs and retaining the inability to look at an issue from another perspective. 

This does not exclusively apply to political issues, but rather any small problem or topic — people just loathe being wrong. I’ve always been a bit tenacious, but as of about a year or two ago, I’ve worked heavily on becoming more open-minded and realizing I’m not correct in every situation. It is a difficult process to alter your way of thinking, but it can be done. 

I’ve also learned that in many situations there may not be a right or wrong answer, but it’s important to step in the other person’s shoes and see where they’re coming from. This thought process alone has really helped me to become a more understanding individual and change how I see the world and the issues within. 

Although I wish others were able to become more open-minded as well, it is clear that many people will remain firm in their beliefs. I have found that the best way to open the door to another perspective for people is to offer constructive criticism for a certain counterpoint with research and facts to back up your views. It is a natural instinct on both ends for some people to become exceedingly emotional or passionate during these conversations regarding opposing thoughts, especially if personal attacks or criticism is brought up, ultimately resulting in a lack of progress. 

The goal of having debates regarding opposing viewpoints should be to try to have the other person see and understand your point of view with an open mind, with an end goal of considering it or potentially even changing their views. If the goal is simply to attack a person and criticize their character, there will be no growth or progress attained. 

I have seen this all too often online and in real life. If you are passionate about an issue and wish for others to share the same viewpoint, share your viewpoint and why. Offer researched facts and reliable information. If they still choose to believe their own viewpoint even with constructive criticism, attacking them personally only spreads toxicity and will definitely not help them change. 

There is so much toxicity online and in real life. People actually tell others to harm themselves over a single viewpoint, and it is horrifyingly sad to me. People will change if they want to but not if others command them to in a scathing tone. Some will allow themselves to become more open-minded and grow in their individuality, possibly changing their viewpoints and possibly not. Either way, the most important thing is to accept what others have to say with an open mind and an open heart. 

That being said, I’m only nineteen and still have a lot to learn about the world. I cherish visiting my hometown, but I know that there’s so much more out there for me to allow myself to mature, prosper and develop my individuality. It all starts with a willingness to listen. 

Emerson McClure is a sophomore advertising & public relations and journalism major. Reach her at emersonmcclure@dailynebraskan.com