Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Oh, The Politics

This election year has been interesting to say the least. People have been divided. People have also been quite open to talking about politics with anyone who will listen and even the people that do not have any interest in listening.

In seeing all of the politic dialogue on Facebook lately, and on Facebook in general over the years, it has really driven home the fact that I was always completely different from everyone I grew up around, even extended family members.

I grew up in a conservative, religious area and I am neither of those things. I was the minority without even knowing it. I looked like them yet I was very different but never knew why. Facebook has really opened my eyes to these differences and I cannot help but wonder how different high school could have been for me had I known about these fundamental differences. I could have had an easier time seeking out people that shared my viewpoints and perhaps high school wouldn't have been so loathsome. I would have understood these people better too.

About a month ago Oprah wrote a letter to her '16 year old self'. It got me thinking.

What would I have told my 16 year old self?

I would have told myself:
Right now you are surrounded by religious conservatives but it won't be like that forever. You wont even have to go too far to find less conservative people to befriend. Even the people that you don't think are conservative really are.

I would have told myself:
Try to seek out people that are less conservative and religious. It will make a difference. You won't feel as though you are constantly filtering your thoughts, dreams and feelings about social policy.

I would have told myself:
You will eventually meet people more like-minded and feel more at ease with yourself, your friendships and your path in life.

I would have told myself:
If you think it's difficult now, just wait. Enjoy the carefree time you have even though it doesn't feel carefree now.

I would have told myself:
Relax a little. You are allowed to have a little fun, spend a little of that hard earned money.

While I felt alienated, isolated and alone in high school it did have a positive effect on me. I learned how to listen to people even though I didn't agree with them and to reply to them in a very diplomatic way.

It also allowed me to understand more about where these people are coming from, why they feel this way. Knowing this has helped me to be less judgmental about their beliefs later in life. I accept them and there off-the-wall facebook posts whereas they were never able to accept me. They made me a better person. Hopefully I made them think a little when I occasionally spoke up.

My husband often wonders how I ended up being as open minded and accepting while surrounded by close minded people. I think is has to do with the fact that my mother let me grow up to make my own choices and my own opinions about things that other parents preach to their children. I am specifically talking about politics.

I learned about politics in school and on the news, not at home. The elementary teacher outlined the differences between democrats and republicans and that was that. My mother never spoke about politics in my presence. TO THIS DAY I HAVE NO IDEA IF SHE IS A REPUBLICAN OR DEMOCRAT.

People are astonished to learn this. I mean jaw-dropping astonishment.

My mother isn't exactly a Chatty-Cathy. She keeps most of her opinions to herself. I'm not sure she kept the topic of politics from me out of her quietness or by design but it is one of those things that has allowed me to be me and I am very thankful for that.

This is one of those things I'd like to do for my children as well.

So at the end of the day, while my conservative extended family members may be outraged by my choices in life and the path I've chosen for myself, I am entertained by their extremely conservative facebook status updates and rants in the wake of the election of Barrack Obama. Just entertained - not outraged. I am accepting. I accept that I cannot change them. So why do they still try to change me?

Rainshower: High school stunk but it helped me become who I am today.

Rainbow: I am finally surrounded by more like-minded people. I finally have a couple of friends that I feel I can talk openly to and it had made a big difference in my sense of belonging.

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