by Steph Holton
I’m a conservative liberal.
I’m a feminist who hates the word ‘feminism.’
I’m a traditionalist who believes in change.
Three years ago, I was none of these things, for the chief reason that I never thought about myself in any of these terms. But then I graduated high school, and I flew the nest. I moved from a rural town, where I graduated with the same 90 kids whom I’d gone to kindergarten with. And I, like most other children, was a product of my environment. My “beliefs,” though I hesitate to even call them that given they were rather inactive, were the product of never having left the comfort of home.
Then, becoming a student and resident of Portland State where residents and opinions are so diverse, all of my beliefs were challenged. And you know what? Many of my preconceived notions about the world have changed in the last two years. Sometimes, that fact terrifies me. I’m torn between the ideals of my hometown and the ideals I’ve come to have as a college student at PSU. Even though I’m aware that change is very much a part of becoming an adult, I worry that my Portland community won’t accept my small-town values, and I worry that my hometown will think I’ve become a “flaming liberal” (actual quote).
It’s taken me awhile to accept that I’m an individual with a view of the world shaped by my unique experience, and my opinions and values are more valid than my fears of not being accepted. I’ve even found that the more I show both sides of me, the more I connect with the people around me and the more interesting my conversations become. We all share an experience as students of PSU, but we also all have a unique background that has helped shape who we are, and that’s definitely something to be proud of and own as an individual