Becoming a young adult means beginning to think about some of life’s bigger issues. How do we deal with climate change? Who are you planning to vote for? What’s your opinion on fast fashion?
As children, our participation in meaningful discussions is limited. Adults start to talk about something over dinner, and we interject with “what does that word mean?” or if we’re brave enough, “I don’t think so, I heard about this in school…” When we move into our teens and young adult years, we suddenly find ourselves being asked for our opinions. It can happen in school, in college, or even just among friends and family.
It’s important to form your own opinions, and not be intimidated by adult discussions. Everyone’s voice is important, and that includes young people.
Here are Missy’s tips on forming your own opinions, confidently.
First, know that it’s ok to be undecided
If we took social media (especially Twitter), as an accurate representation of the world, then it would seem like everyone knows exactly how they feel about every big societal issue. Some people have an opinion on everything, and they’re not afraid to voice it, even if they barely know what they’re talking about. Don’t be fooled by these people or pressured into going along with them.
It’s ok if you haven’t quite made your mind up about something yet. Nobody knows everything. Sometimes it shows more confidence to just say “you know, I’ve heard about that, but I’m not sure what I make of it yet”, than to just go along with someone else’s opinion or make something up on the spot.
Read, read, read…
Reading is incredible for your personal development. Of course, it’s important to be sure you’re reading a credible resource, like a national newspaper or a website run by a well-known organisation. Lots of well written fiction novels also touch on important issues, and although they’re not the place to gather facts, they can introduce you to a point of view you may not have considered.
The more you know about the topics you care about, the more comfortable you’ll be discussing them, even if you’re still a little undecided on some things.
Don’t rely on social media for information
Social media can be an incredible tool for sharing and learning, but there’s a lot of misinformation out there too. If you’re still trying to form your own opinion on something tricky, the many heated debates you see online can be confusing and stressful. Always double-check facts you see on social media and pay attention to who’s writing what you’re reading. For more tips on managing your relationship with social media, see our article How to Cultivate a Positive Social Media Feed.
Find people you enjoy having discussions with
Sometimes our friends or family members have very strong opinions, or just a fiery personality that makes openly discussing things hard. It’s important to be able to talk about real issues, without feeling like it’s an argument. Open discussions should involve two people who trust each other and want to know each other’s opinions. Figure out who you have in your life that you enjoy really talking to and be your most open with those people.
Finally, take your time
You’re allowed to be unsure, you’re allowed to change your mind, and you’re allowed to reconsider your opinions continuously throughout your life. What’s important is that you feel informed and comfortable using your voice. Your opinion matters, so give it the consideration it deserves.
Do you struggle on how to form your own opinions confidently without the pressure from others?