This morning I indulged in a bit of idiocy and engaged in a couple Facebook comment discussions about a highly controversial subject. Normally, I stay far, far away from such interactions and scroll hastily past threads 27 comments deep with people spewing their self-righteous opinions fast and furiously. Yet today, I felt the need to make my viewpoint heard for some (unknown to me) reason.
I will admit, after I posted my first comment, I sat with eager anticipation, watching my Facebook icon for a notification to pop up which would reveal ‘likes’ galore and others commenting on how I was “so right” and “had such great points”. And when that first notification appeared? It was someone pointing out what they felt was a flaw in my comment. Woomp woomp.
This experience was serious food for thought. Why do people have such deep-seated opinions? What causes such emotional attachment to a certain idea? Most importantly, how does someone actually change their opinion? I know it’s possible to shift your life views because my perspective has changed so drastically over the years, and it no, it definitely wasn’t because I engaged in many a rigorous Myspace discussion.
In reality, your truth is based mostly on your personal experiences. When I was younger, I was very against homosexuality because I was raised with conservative beliefs. In high school, one of my friends came out to me as lesbian, and it caused some serious soul-searching for me. Wait, she’s my friend! She’s a good person! But homosexuality is a sin! Eventually I settled into my current acceptance, which was the beginning of my many shifts of consciousness throughout the last ten years.
When you are younger, your parents shape your experiences. They will expose you to things that align with their version of the universe, and you come to accept it as your own. It is a startling moment when you realize that your parents might not know everything. The pillars of your life that have always provided you with righteous guidance suddenly fall under scrutiny as all of your values are tested in your mind. This feels like the day your world collapses, and yet, it is actually the day you begin to find your way. This is the day that you get to really decide who you are and what you believe. This is when you find your truth.
But there is a catch.
You will never find your truth if you don’t expose yourself to the world. I am so different from who I was because I have experienced things that vastly diverge from the microcosm I grew up in. There have been experiences that have changed my perspective 180 degrees, and other experiences that have solidified my childhood norms. The point is, I filtered the information I received and shaped myself in response. You cannot change who you are if you always give yourself to the same input.
So with that said.
Travel. Talk to strangers. Sit alone. Face a fear. Read books. Take the job across the country or overseas. Play devil’s advocate.
Don’t be afraid of change at the most fundamental level. After all of your experiences, you may very well find that your truth stays solidly the same. Most likely, some of it will shift. In the end, we make choices based on our truth. These choices shape our world. And while sharing your vision on a Facebook thread may not prove to be the most optimal way to shift anyone else’s paradigm, there is no greater satisfaction than knowing that you built your own truth and you own your life.