I’ve struggled a long time figuring out my life goals, my life passions, and what I want to be remembered by. It’s something we all grapple with and many still desire to find. I’ve struggled with this as long as I’ve been alive because I don’t honestly know.

Or, at least, that was the case two weeks ago.

So much has changed in that short period that has caused me to realize that I no longer need to fear reprimand for my beliefs and values, that I can and should fight for the things that are important to me. That I shouldn’t be fearful of what others should say about me and judge who I am because of them. That I should always stand up, even when I might be pushed back down because I think them right. Not the audience.

In that vein, I have much to say. I have, for a long time, felt this way. I just never bothered to write it, to actually express how I feel to anyone other than myself and internet strangers through semi-anonymous usernames. I’m not terribly important, but this post is more for you to know me as it is for me to be accountable, to actually change as opposed to just blowing smoke up everyone’s asses.

I’ve changed because I have role models that have changed my life, people that care, and chance encounters and opportunities that I’ve taken.

In the past two weeks, I’ve had the time to spend with many people, some of them great, some not so. But in that way, we can see what is good about the world.

I spent time with my grandfather and great-grandmother (92 year old at that!), and they both taught me something invaluable during this last trip. They taught me that life has opportunities and that you need to seize them. Be yourself at every opportunity, whether it seems crazy or stupid at the time, if you have a chance, take it.

My great-grandmother talked about the times growing up during the Great Depression, and it was the first time I remember her talking about this. She told me so much about what that life was like, and just how hard her family worked to provide food and a good life for her and her siblings. She talked about trying to play with her brothers, and how much of a tomboy she thought she was. These are things that I never knew about her. And it was eye-opening- we all live these lives once, and she had some crazy stories. There are others, like how she met my great-grandfather and how they got married on a whim, but those all paint the picture of someone that took the opportunities she was given and made the most of them.

My grandfather is much the same way, as he was cut from their cloth. He is my closest relative and is someone I aspire to be. He’s taught me much in life, and how to be a good man, not just in intellect but in how to be compassionate for your family. And this trip was no different- we constantly talked about history, something that I have found a deep appreciation for as of late, and we talked for nearly two hours before rushing to the theater.

During our conversations, he drove me to continue learning, as I’ve always done. It made me think, however, as I always learn and internalize and not vocalize much of it.

That leads to yesterday (specifically, June 10th if reading at a later date).

A few months back, I opted to participate in a work opportunity to begin learning about what my purpose and vision are. This opportunity is not specific to work- it aims to find something bigger, and I think I finally figured it out.

During our first onboarding call, I was asked something simple.

“What are your passions?”

It’s not something I’ve honestly been asked before, and something I didn’t think someone would ask me about. It’s something so inherently personal that most people don’t really bother to ask.

And for whatever reason, I answered completely.

I care about equality on all fronts. Regardless of race, religion, sex, sexuality, wealth, refugee or not, it does not matter. Everyone matters equally, no matter what. All people deserve as such, even those that society doesn’t want to help, or are viciously attacked for being themselves. I wish I only had a tenth of their courage.

I care about the environment, and what we’re doing to our planet. I care about our children not being vaccinated. I care about misinformation on both parties. I care about providing the poor and homeless with adequate resources.

I care deeply about educating all students regardless of wealth with a system that allows them to learn in a positive environment. I care deeply about giving students more choices in their education, allowing them to pursue topics that they want to pursue instead of a boilerplate system that tries to accommodate all.

I care about the exploitation of men and women in the name of profit, such as the medical industry that affects millions of Americans.

I care about the way that political parties are trying to control avenues of free speech.

And I care about so much more, but I simply don’t want to write them all. Just ask me. I’ll buy you coffee and let’s talk about them. I want you to know me.

Why do I care so much?

Growing up, I have always had a strong sense of right vs. wrong, but my definition was very much opposed. Either you were right or wrong, and there was little middle-ground. In that way, I am still much the same way. There is a right way and a wrong way, and I want to fight for the right way.

This viewpoint is no shocker to a ton of people. I’ve been in groups that are extremely progressive, and pro-LGBTQ, pro-refugees, feminist, and basically anything else under the sun. I love them for helping shape my viewpoints, but even more than that, I love the groups that help me shape my viewpoints from opposing or critical angles. Those are the ones that have helped me find that this is a true passion of mine and something that I want to pursue further. So here I am.

This is why I no longer fear. I have found myself.

I love you all, even if we don’t talk much. I want to help you as much as I can in anything that helps in my stances.