For five years I had been asking the staff of my school if I could not wear the “girls” uniform.

I wasn’t aware items of clothing had a gender, let alone that my personal expression was forced to fit this same set of rules. It is in my final year of college I gave up asking and just wore the uniform I felt more comfortable wearing. No questions were asked of me, although I got congratulated and told to keep it up.

I view myself as a person open to all ideas. Blunt views and opinions are an effective manner of portraying views. No case of wires getting crossed and no ambiguous feelings. I have my own opinions, based on the set of knowledge which I have amassed over my life. But if anyone can teach me anything more, or open my eyes to a view I hadn’t yet seen, I would be thankful. Knowledge is a gift that can be passed to others and treasured or kept and evaluated and questioned and evolved over time.

The beginning of this year I stood up in front of my peer group and may or may not have called out my entire community as being a “close minded farming community with traditional values”. Silence. Followed up very quickly by “Now, I’m not saying this is a bad thing, but…”That was a genuinely terrifying moment. I was the only biological female not wearing either a kilt or skirt, standing on stage in front of my peer group, committing social suicide. Shaking, I sat back down and let the internal meltdown begin. A few days later I had a stranger come up to me in a corridor who said “I don’t know why it went so quiet. What you said is true, I don’t know why they were shocked”. 

Many things can affect someone’s views and opinions. Such as their cultural background, geographical location, religious beliefs, parents views, media, and their own interests. Having opinions and being steadfast about them seems to be a decreasing trend. It is an intrinsic part of human nature that we need to grow. We need to plant ideas and nurture them to grow and blossom. I am a self-identified ‘special snowflake’, quite unique and very liberal. It might be due to this part of my nature that makes me question things and want to know the answer, but I doubt it is. Talking to other open-minded people from all over the country allows these seeds of knowledge to spread across the country, and questioning them gives them the power to grow.

If you’d asked me maybe as little as two years ago whether I would be studying philosophy at all, let alone as a University Entrance subject, the answer would have been, as accurately as I can type it “Nooo???” (You just have to imagine the questioning intonation being held for way too long going way too high). If you ask me now whether I am happy taking it, the answer would be a long winded ramble asking what is happiness, can we ever achieve it and is there a point to it? Followed up with a hyperactive nod and affirmative yes.

By Josie Tallents