If somebody asked me about good places to eat in my hometown, I would be able to give that person a list of options and explain in detail whether the service, quality of the food and ambience justifies each restaurant’s price point.  

I could do the same for clothes, makeup and other products. I have formulated opinions on these topics based on personal experience and thorough research. Considering my meager income, I’ve always made sure to make informed decisions on what I buy — whether it be material items or food. I figured that since I purchase these things for myself, they make a direct impact on my life.

However, despite writing for the opinions section of the newspaper for a little over a year, I’ve realized that I don’t invest the same amount of fastidiousness in major topics like politics, controversial events or international crises. In fact, I’ve actually tried to avoid conversations or writing pieces that would force me to declare any political opinion.

I have always believed that I am too uninformed to offer a solid opinion, or that certain events were too distant in order for me to fully comprehend their severity. In addition to being insecure in my abilities to objectively analyze controversial issues, I was afraid of both offending someone and being offended by people with dissenting opinions.

Furthermore, everything I write for the Highlander is posted online — and everybody knows that everything released on the internet is there forever (I don’t think I ever deleted my MySpace from middle school, which is a terrifying thought.) I was afraid of jeopardizing a job prospect if a future employer with ideals different from mine were to stumble upon one of my articles.

If life was World War I and II, I wanted to be Switzerland. Growing up, I’ve always been advised to avoid conflict and arguments. Even if someone had made me upset, I was told to never confront them about it, since it would just lead to unnecessary drama. This was fine in dealing with childhood social interactions, but as I grew older I found myself faced with controversial topics I never even felt I had a place to talk about before.

Especially with everything that has taken place in 2016 — the presidential election, the mass shootings and the Standing Rock protests, to name a few — I found it irresponsible of me to be writing my usual fluff pieces about viral videos and social media trends. While inexperienced television news reporters are delegated to cover the feel-good pieces at the end of the broadcast, I willingly chose these topics because I felt they were safe and inoffensive.

Despite being constantly bombarded with news regarding tragedy and injustices, I remained in my comfort zone, thinking that there was somebody out there more knowledgeable than me that was more qualified to talk about them.

Now I realize that being neutral, especially at my age and in this current political landscape, is no better than being indifferent. In my attempt to save my own skin I’m letting myself indulge in ignorance. The fact that these issues were reaching me even though I wasn’t even searching for them only proved that I wasn’t as distant from them as I initially believed.

Instead of deliberately avoiding controversial issues, I’ll confront them head on. If I applied the same meticulousness to analyzing current events as I do to dining options, I think I would be an incredibly knowledgeable individual. Not only do I hope to learn much more this year, I also hope that the ideas I share are more meaningful and helpful in how others decide what stance to take on a particular subject matter.