I want to tell you some things that might not make sense. I wish an adult would have seen me clearly enough to know I needed to hear similar things when I was 18. Do you know what I mean when I invoke the impact of being seen?
You’re a sharp kid. Like a lot of sharp kids, especially ones in their first semester of college, you know both way more and way less than you realize. I was the same way. So was—so is—every other adult, including every other teacher, you’ve known and will know.
You should accept nothing from us as truth before vetting it against your own inquiry. We do probably know more than you and your peers know about some things. We also tend to indoctrinate young people instead of helping them become autonomous thinkers. Please heed Walt Whitman and “re-examine all you have been told in school or church or in any book, and dismiss whatever insults your own soul.”
By “inquiry” I mean deep, active curiosity that includes interrogating your own thinking at least as much as you interrogate the thinking of people you disagree with or consider stupid. It’s very hard work. It’s not just navel-gazing. You will find few examples of how to do it well. Even after doing it for years—after it has helped you learn to discern valid insight from self-serving magical thinking—it will lead you to many inaccurate conclusions because all perception is distorted and opinions can definitely be wrong.