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I've come to understand that people's opinions are the result of their experiences

SPOKESMAN FILE PHOTO - Samantha MonelloOver my middle and high school years, I've come to understand that people's opinions are the result of their experiences. Everyone views a situation differently or answers a question in a certain way depending on how they've been raised or the things they've been exposed to. Each person has a different perspective, and this diversity of perspectives is crucial in the improvement of our world. The tension between opposing views is what advances our thinking and accomplishments. So why do so many people refuse to embrace this ambiguity? Why do we shy away from forming our own opinions and choose to follow someone else's instead? Why don't we combine these things, our own views and those of others, so we have a more broad perspective of the world?

At the high school level, this is seen everywhere. Kids are placed into uncomfortable situations and instead of bearing through the struggle and figuring out what to do and how to think about something on their own, they choose to sit back and watch others. Not only does this hinder their ability to think for themselves, it also doesn't allow them to form a true perspective. By following others, they have chosen to see things only from that person's point of view. Groupthink, the practice of thinking or making decisions as a group in a way that discourages creativity and individual responsibility, is one of the easiest ways to hide behind other people's perspectives. It is much easier to think like the group than it is to stand alone. Too often we see people jump to conclusions, think too fast and assume because it is easy. It seems that many of us are not taking the time to think for ourselves.

It is valuable to understand the importance of perspective in our lives because if we don't, we are severely at risk for misinterpreting much of what is going on around us. A great high school example of this is when a friend tells you something bad about someone else. By choosing to believe the friend and judge the other person, you have put yourself at risk for misunderstanding the entire situation. The friend didn't like that person, and you chose to agree with that friend before even thinking about the evidence. The better way to go about the situation, in my opinion, would be to think about it from different sides. Think about how the friend saw it, still, but also think about the person, what they are going through and what they are like, and think about yourself as well. Over the years, I have found it absolutely important to pursue more than one framework to think about problems and many times, though not always, insights from several perspectives dominate those offered by a single one.

The best way to develop one's perspective is to gain experiences. Someone with a myriad of experiences, who has been exposed to countless situations and environments, will see the world from a different point of view than someone who only does what their friends do. Open to new ideas and views, we must take advantage of the opportunities we are given, and expose ourselves to the different sides of the world. As we try new things and gain deeper understandings, we will grow, our opinions will change and we will begin to see the world from our own point of view, not someone else's. We are preparing to enter the real world, whether it is college or the work force, and individual perspectives are paramount.

Samantha is a senior at Wilsonville High School.

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