SENIOR COLUMN: Your opinion matters

SENIOR+COLUMN%3A+Your+opinion+matters

Photo courtesy of Morgan Nicodemus

Morgan Nicodemus

When I first applied to write a biweekly opinion column for The Crimson White, I applied with the intent that this position would equip me with the writing experience I needed and the publishing perks I wanted. I was on a pursuit for people across this campus and nation to hear my voice, though I hardly knew what being an opinion columnist really meant. Truthfully, I am the type of person who strives to stray from current events controversy. This is largely due to a peculiar sensitivity I have attached to my opinions and the opinions of others. All my life, I have seen expression of strong opinion as a tactic used to tear another down, so deciding to formally write out my opinions on a regular basis was a contract I was terrified to sign.

As I have grown as an opinion columnist, I have also grown as a person. Today, I am a much stronger woman than when I submitted my first column in September 2016. I initially started writing with a humorous edge, figuring that I would slightly dip my toe into addressing an issue and quickly pull it back out before anyone could associate me with a specific opinion. But as I continued to write, I realized that this position was more than just an opportunity to see my name in print. Having this opinion column quickly became an opportunity for me to speak out about the things I truly care about, the things I am so angry with, the things that bring me joy and the things that shatter my heart. I wrote about the sorrow of childhood cancer, the science and stigma of addiction, the betrayal I felt by my church and several other harrowing issues. Every other week, I have been given a microphone in the form of written word to express myself and my beliefs, and with this privilege has come both pride and insecurity.

To the readers who have stuck by my side through this journey, I cannot thank you enough for your unwavering support and encouragement. I hope that my column has brought about new perspectives or assured you of opinions you already have. To write this column is to be vulnerable, and my supporters have brought me immense comfort in the moments that I have wanted to retract my firm stances for fear of being shamed.

To the readers and commenters who have shamed my column and even me, you have made this experience more worth it than I could ever thank you for. With your afflictive and aggressive comments has come my strength and my desire to change how opinions can be expressed. I have learned that when opinions are used as a force for good, these thoughts and ideas have the ability to bring advancement and transformation to the issues we are passionate about. But when opinions are used as a weapon, no one has the ability to win. So while you may have wanted to receive an aggressive reaction in response, my only reaction has ever been to write better, stronger and more articulate columns.

I don’t believe I am the only person who once struggled, and still often struggles, with expressing opinion for fear of negative response. Because my opinions come from my mind and my heart, I have difficulty separating emotion from logic. My beliefs are the most personal part of me, so choosing to not engage in various types of discussion has always been a form of armor I am quick to wear. But if I can leave my readers with one thing, it is that fear of expressing your thoughts will hold you back in ways you can’t yet predict. Because I decided to take the risk of addressing and critiquing so many hard and complex issues, I got to see how my voice can be a vessel for greater good. Had I never taken this chance, I would have never felt the freeing feeling that happens when someone says “You know what? I feel that way, too. I’m so glad someone finally said it.”

Stay informed. Stay understanding. Stay kind. Stay courageous. These are the four rules that have brought my column to life, and the reminders that I hope others will consider before expressing their opinions. Each day is a new opportunity to advocate for the people and problems we care about most, but even more so, each day is a new opportunity to sincerely try and understand the people and problems others care about, too. Abandon the confinement of your fear and live in the deliverance it brings. Freedom is worth the risk. 

Morgan Nicodemus is a senior 
majoring in public relations. Her 
column runs bi-weekly.