Why Having an Open Mind is Essential for College

Story by Shelbey Pena
Photo by Anne Langan

Dr. Wayne Dyer once said “the ultimate ignorance is the rejection of something you know nothing about, yet refuse to investigate.”

Although this is the year 2016, let’s face it, some people still cannot handle the idea of a woman loving a woman or a man loving a man. We have made progress of course, but coming to college with a closed mind will only be a step backward.

Coming to Central Michigan University has made me realize everything I have been missing out on while I was living in the small town of Lewiston. Being surrounded by people with different cultures, ethnicities, beliefs and sexual orientations is something I have been wishing to experience.

Where I come from, many of the people were rather similar or too afraid to actually be their true self because of the amount of judgment they would receive. In no way am I saying being in a larger community means that there is no judgment, but there are more people of similar ground to relate to that makes you forget about the close-minded people in the world.

Coming to class and having the chance to sit next to someone of a different race or culture just about every day is rewarding. We learn about race and ethnicity in school, but not first hand. I couldn’t even relate to it while learning because I was in a predominantly white school.

The ones who struggled with acceptance of different types of people that I went to high school with are people I am concerned about now as they are attending college. We should be curious, not judgemental. Closed-minded people often try to persuade others that they’re right and others are wrong, but that is all a matter of opinion. The issue is: they only talk and do not listen.

Working toward a Continually Open Mind
The first step in opening your mind is learning to love yourself completely. To be able to love others, you must, first, love yourself. Self-love is hard to grasp, but doing so while you are young is the most beneficial for your health.

Next, you must get rid of the idea of judging everyone. Where we come from can be a large influence on how we view people. Our parents, friends, teachers and even social media can largely influence our perception of people. The only way to stay away from this is to realize that it is okay to develop an opinion for yourself. Do not let others influence what you perceive as acceptable or not acceptable.

It is good to speak your mind as long as it is not harmful to others, but it is also good to learn when you must remain silent. Listen to others. Take a day to be silent and only listen to others without voicing your opinion, and I promise you will learn a lot from others and also learn more about yourself.

It is not easy transitioning from a closed-minded person to an open minded person, but it most definitely is possible. Become okay with the idea of difference, learn to love yourself, and in return, you will learn to love all people. Imagine the kinds of people who you can meet while in college if you assess people based on character – not looks, sexual orientation, or beliefs.

The world is a large place. We are the generation of change. To benefit the future, we must promote differences as being a good thing. If we were all the same, the world would be a dull, gray place.

Arthur Forman breaks it down like this: “Not everyone thinks the way you think, knows the things you know, believes the things you believe, nor acts the way you would act. Remember this and you will go a long way in getting along with people.”