We are nearing the end of the semester, and I am sitting here, writing my last piece. I think it’s appropriate now to talk a bit about how we got here.
I’ve always enjoyed writing, but I’ve never felt ownership of my writing. Part of it is how my past education has taught me that what I write must be in response to better literature, while original pieces had to follow clear guidelines put forth by teachers. The other part of it is that I did not believe I was capable of completing a writing project. I was afraid of running out of inspiration when I needed it the most or having an opinion that no one liked or not being able to express myself adequately. This column itself was completely unplanned. Initially, I just wanted to appear briefly on an edition of Haruka’s wonderful column, El Centro. Somehow, a slot for columns opened up, and here I am.
I was chatting with a friend at brunch today about how I sometimes feel detached from most of the world and its opinions. I prefer to listen to all the details and piece together a complete picture, to which I then ask myself “Where do we go from here?” When choosing essay topics, I always go with one through which I can analyze and over ones in which I would have to give an opinion.
Then, the friend asked me: “Can you really think without having an opinion?”
I thought about it. To really get to the root of that loaded question, we would have to explore what it meant to “think” and what it meant to “have an opinion.” More simply, the question forced me to re-evaluate my idea of opinions — an opinion, I realized, doesn’t have to be something clear-cut. An opinion can be a simple inclination toward one direction over the other, but an inclination strong enough that it alters our cognitive processes.
For example, two people writing an analytical piece on the same topic could be pulling information from different resources and, from that different information, end up with different conclusions. I wouldn’t normally think of this as an opinion. But then, what part of their brain is pushing them to prioritize certain information over other information? Is it ever possible to go through life and still think completely objectively, without biases or inclinations?
So I guess I do have opinions. I have a lot of opinions, actually, or at least predispositions. I am predisposed to enjoy subject matters involving human nature rather than those involving plants. I am inclined to pick outfits that are light on the top and dark on the bottom. I prefer ham over bacon. I enjoy college more than high school. Some opinions others couldn’t care less about — like the way I brush my teeth. Some opinions, like these columns, seem quite well-received. Some opinions are more outrageous, like my belief that we most likely live in a simulation.
Regardless, I am glad that I decided to take on this column and share my opinions, however jumbled, incoherent and unplanned they are. Here’s to another semester full of introspection.