Finding My Political Views Was an Act of Self Love.

How I grew with my beliefs.

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I grew up in a conservative home.

On car rides during the week as a kid it wasn’t music that we had coming through the speakers, but Talk Radio. For as long as I can remember my Dad listened to the likes of Hugh Hewitt, Mark Levin, and of course Rush Limbaugh. As I got a little older and the topic of politics came up on occasion, of course I was eager to share what my Dad has taught me. I repeated what I could remember, too young to realize that I held no actual beliefs and had nothing to back up what I was saying.

But critical thinking — like many other skills — is one that develops over time, and so does the nuance of political discussion when growing up. By the time I got to the age where these conversations were beginning to turn real and thorough, people would challenge my ideas with their own more thought out answers. That wasn’t something I was prepared for. The idea that I had absolutely no real answers to most of their points had crept in to the back of my head, and it stuck. I was beginning to get frustrated by it, and I entered college with that attitude.

Whether I wanted to admit it or not, I had internalized not only my Dad’s political views, but everything that my friends and especially my teachers had shared with me. I had no intention of going to college and forming my own deep political beliefs, but the challenges to everything I thought I knew coming from every direction only deepened my frustrations.

Sociology class was my awakening.

I was no longer just mildly frustrated and unsure. That class made me angry. Exposing myself to the reality of the United States and what we have done not only around the world but to our own people was probably the hardest thing for me to do in terms of my education. Every single day, everything I had been taught was challenged by facts, data, and statistics. I was being exposed to things that I was privileged enough not to have experienced firsthand as a young white woman who grew up middle class.

At the time I thought I was angry about what was taught. I convinced myself at first that all of it had to be all just a ridiculous lie, all part of the Professor’s “bias”. But my mind was far more open than I realized, and there was only so long I could go on ignoring everything that was being presented to me. I realized early on in my college career that I was angry not at what I was learning, but because I was beginning to feel like I had been duped. I began sending my Dad links to everything I had been reading and learning, in a desperate and failed attempt to make him see it, too.

By the time spring semester of sophomore year has rolled around, that changes that had occurred within me were radical.

I was no longer angry. I was proud.

It’s impossible to go through an ideological transformation without a lot of self reflection and awareness, and I absolutely loved it. With everything I was learning about the world around me and what created it, I was learning perhaps even more about myself in the process. There was a passion inside of me I never knew existed, and I love that more than anything else about myself.

Not only that, I was able to walk away from political discussions feeling as though I had sufficiently backed up what I was trying to say. I was learning both the best and worst parts of me. There was an unapologetic fierceness in me that I to pride in, but at the same time I knew I really needed to work on conveying my message in a way that would make people with opposing views more willing to listen.

Self-discovery is self love, and so is educating oneself to make our own informed opinions. For me, learning about the issues to find where I stand has evolved in to a journey of self love. It has showed me how to keep an open mind, and that is the most critical aspect of growth. Self love and politics are both ever-changing journeys, and I am looking forward to continuing down this path.

Lauren is a writer & leftist with analysis on topics related to politics & policy. She can be reached at LaurenMartinchek@gmail.com or Twitter @xlauren_mx

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