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Finding My Opinions

Once upon a time I lived a very sheltered life.  This time I refer to as … High School.

This sheltered time was not due to any harsh restrictions set on by my parents, but more my own blinders that I had set on my own path.  My eyes were set on music and the notes were all I could see.  My days and nights year round were filled with so many ensembles that rehearsed daily, weekly, or one week a year, life was busy.

When hanging out with friends, we were all like minded.  We didn’t drink alcohol or smoke anything.  We didn’t stay out all night long or skip school.  The worst of things we would do is throw balloons filled with aerosol into a backyard bonfire or drive a Jeep in the mud in an unfinished neighborhood.  We were harmless.

Where differences arose were when my friends would go off to a concert (non-classical mind you) or some other socially stimulating event, I would be playing Beethoven, going to a concert (the Cincinnati Symphony) or taking part in my other favorite hobby, sitting on a computer.  All-in-all, I let myself be sheltered.

After high school, however, I went to Indiana University for one year and my eyes were opened when I met these other students.  You see, I lived on the performing arts floor of my dorm and lived with some of the most unique and unbelievably talented people I have ever met.  From Trumpet to Trombone and costumes to dance, the floor was a constant Broadway show, drama and all.

But even beyond the people that I lived around, there was a new sense of freedom that I had never experienced before.  We had freedom to go about and do anything we pleased at any time we pleased to do it.

I learned a lot about other people and even more about myself in that one year of school than I think I ever will for the rest of my life.  And this was because there was such a variety of personalities from all over the world that trickled into that music program.  It was amazing.

That November in 2004 was the also the first Presidential elections that I was able to vote.  This new level of responsibility was set on my shoulders.  This wasn’t choosing which class I would take the following semester, this was deciding who was going to lead my country.  And even though, in hindsight, I believe I did not make a fully educated decision on which direction my vote was cast, the fact is that I did cast a vote.  And this was truly a turning point.

It was during this time period, while at school, that I had a revelation and learned the simple fact that I am in charge of my life.  While there are many people more than willing to ‘help’ give you direction in your life, in the end, it is all on your shoulders.  I debated with myself a lot that year.  I struggled to find my voice and self-image.  Through questions of faith, love, and beliefs I talked to others, thought to myself, and researched many answers.  Although my parents were only 3 hours away and only 10 digits away on a cell phone, I was mentally living on my own.

Over the next few years, my concept of being in charge of my life matured.  After transferring to University of Cincinnati and changing degrees to Computer Science, I learned more and more about the way the world works. The more I saw of the world, the more I was intrigued.  I started learning about politics and foreign countries.  I learned about so much of what was going on outside.

In the past, when people talked about current events or even what the latest greatest movies out in theaters were, I would remain silent, nodding my head when glanced at, just going through the motions of not being noticed.  But the more I learned about the outside world, the more I learned and realized what the most important part of being a person is … being educated.

Now I am not talking about learning Calculus or Organic Chemistry.  I am not even talking about basic Algebra or a foreign language.  I am talking about being socially educated so that you can interact with a certain level of confidence within society.  I am talking about being knowledgeable enough to be able to form coherent and valid opinions.

I know what people say about how similar opinions and a behinds are … everyone has one and a lot of them stink … but I firmly believe that a stinky opinion, if it is well thought out and well researched is much better than no opinion at all.  Being able to function within society and have educated debates about important topics is what being a part of a Democracy is all about.

I know I am getting very long winded, and I am doing my best to stay on topic.  This is basically my ‘coming of age’ story that I strongly believe has improved me as a human being.  I love hearing about and even more so understanding what is going on in the world.  Understanding more about the outside world has also improved my quality of life from a ‘me’ perspective as well.  As I learn more about what is going on around me, I learn more about how I believe I am suppose to live.  I learn about duty to God, Family, Friends and Country.  And finally (and most importantly) I learn that I even though I am just one, through questioning the way things are done and voicing my own beliefs I can make a difference.

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