College is a time for growth, both intellectually and emotionally. It is where we evolve into something that more closely resembles our parents and less the scared and unsure children we were.

Part of this transition is stopping to consider our beliefs about who we are, including the ones we hold most deeply ? such as religion, what we want to do with our lives, our sexual orientations and our ethics.

That introspection is something we owe to ourselves. Heretofore our morals and beliefs have largely been determined by the adults around us ? who we believed to be the ultimate oracles of absolute truth.

We threw that out the window as teenagers as part of the usual rebellion, but now we must take it to heart and consider the ideas imparted on us before this stage.

The timing is perfect, really ? we’re learning how to live as independent individuals. We make most of our own decisions about our lives now, so it only makes sense to consider the decisions that have been made for us. It’s a process we can continue for the rest of our life.

Sometimes what is right for others isn’t right for us. You may find that the religion you were raised in isn’t right for you, or that having been raised agnostic or atheist that a particular religion actually does make sense to you.

I grew up Presbyterian and happened to come to the conclusion that it made sense for me.

I also grew up thinking that I would marry some nice girl and have a traditional family. You know, the whole white picket house in the ‘burbs thing.

Well, it hasn’t quite worked out that way for me. I realized that girls didn’t quite do it for me and that I can’t stand the thought of living in the suburbs in some cookie-cutter house.

My parents weren’t exactly thrilled at first, but they’ve gotten over the initial shock and love me for who I am. They realize that the lives they have lived aren’t necessarily for me. It doesn’t really matter why. They love me regardless.

These most intimate and basic aspects of who we “are” are truly the ones that everyone should decide for themselves and not just accept because that is how they were raised. The flip side is that we should also be able to accept the beliefs that we cannot find flaw with. Why reject something because it initially came from someone else?

One of the hardest parts of the process of growing up is the reality that our decisions and beliefs may upset our parents.

But in the end, you are the one who has to live every moment of every day with these beliefs and decisions. Living your life for other people isn’t right. Anyone who actually cares about your happiness will accept any decision you make. It may take a while, but it’s really unavoidable in the end.

Happiness isn’t found by being something for someone else, but by being exactly who you’re supposed to be. You.

Paris can be reached at

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