I first started to come to this realization of finding myself when working on my first quarter benchmark. For the project, we had to create monologues from different perspectives having to do with the Keystone Pipeline. This project was especially difficult for me because I am very strongly against the pipeline being built, but I had to write a monologue through the eyes of someone who was for it. While doing this, I almost started convincing myself that the pipeline was actually beneficial. I caught myself writing passionately about the pros of the pipeline... A little too passionately. I thought to myself, “how could I possibly be convincing myself that this is okay?” I realized that once I took myself out of that comfort zone of just saying no, I started to see the other side more clearly. I was disappointed in myself for going against what I believed in, and gave up on seeing the benefits.
Looking back on my old writing pieces from the year, I realized how much I actually have thought about people having to come out of their comfort zone. For example, when learning about Galileo, I was answering why society got mad at him for his findings. I said, “I think religion was more important to them because it was all they knew, so since science was so new, they went against it.” The people in Galileo’s society didn’t want to go out of their comfort zone by believing in new information, so they punished him for sharing.
In the second quarter, we started our unit on religion. This is the time when I truly believed in the fact that you will only truly know yourself when you go out of your comfort zone. As a class, we went into the unit with our guards up, knowing that this would be a battle no one would really win. When we came out of the unit, I think we still had our guards up... but not as much. One of the major topics we were stuck on for a while was the meaning of the hijab in the Islamic religion. I can’t speak for everyone, but I never knew what the purpose of wearing the hijab really was, and I have definitely heard the argument that it is degrading to women. When it was explained that the purpose was to preserve a woman’s modesty, I realized how quick our society is to judge, without taking the time to find the true meaning of things.
One of my responses to the book the Power of Myth from the religion unit really stuck out to me. I said, “some people, especially Americans, tend to frown upon cultures that are strict on marriage, but maybe they just have better values than us.” I am not apart of a culture that is strict when it comes to marriage, and my family isn’t either. When I was hearing about religions and cultures that look at marriage differently from me, I started realizing how much their views actually made sense. While I look at marriage as an extremely sacred thing, I don’t necessarily think it should be something completely controlled by family members, or be looked at as a strict occasion with many rules following it. But, learning about how others look at marriage made me question how seriously I take something like that that is so important.
As the year progressed, the more evidence I had to back up my thesis. Entering the revolutions unit in quarter 3 only made my thesis stronger. In my journal, I wrote, “I think I’d die for someone I love, but not for something I believe in.” I remember looking down at my paper, disappointed in what I had just written. Do I have no morals or values? No, I do have morals and values, but only because I broke the barrier I had made for myself to say that I would stand up for what I believe in. If someone caught me off guard, I probably would have said, “yes, I would die for something I believe in,” but once I was able to break that wall of confidence, I learned a lot about myself. Whether it be because I don’t have something that I believe in that strongly at the moment, or because I just never will care enough about my beliefs, I realized that I am not the type of person that would be able to lead a movement. This was a sad realization at first, but it only educated me on my true personality more and more.
Still in the revolutions unit, I wrote another journal entry that showed my true personality. “If everyone was nonviolent, than that would be a greater force for change. But since that will probably never happen, violence is a better force. I wish that wasn’t the case, but it is the truth.” We had just learned about how terrible violence in revolutions is, and why it should never be used, but I still wasn’t buying into it. Yes, morally, I would say that violence should never be used, no matter what, but if you want to get something done fast, then violence might just be the best option. This was another one of those cases that made me question my morality and what I actually believed in, but it just let my true feelings show.
In the final quarter of our history class, we were talking about what makes people the way they are. It’s always safe to say that when a person does something bad, or acts out, it can be dismissed because it is just a result of their past. I think as a class, we dropped the act of saying whatever sounded best on paper, and came to the conclusion that, “people’s pasts can be an explanation for their bad behavior, but not an excuse.” Even though it is definitely more comforting to forgive someone because you know they’ve had it rough, it’s not actually right.
In the end, I finished the year feeling strongly about my true identity. Through all of the worksheets, note taking, documentary watching, and discussing, I built a stronger name for myself.