In today?s world, caring is crucial

I?ve always been drawn to quirky people. I get bored when I feel like everyone is the same (what my mom calls ?plain vanilla?). More and more during my time at North Park, I have grown to appreciate a person?s unique personality traits and have found myself drawn to those who ?march to the beat of a different drummer.?

This interest in the intricacies of people?s personalities began in Los Angeles, where my time with the homeless taught me that every single person has a unique, complex story that deserves to be fully known.

Fired up and ready to change the world, I?d return home from every summer trip. I quickly discovered, though, that life in Hillsboro bares little semblance to life in the hustling, bustling urban world. I couldn?t fluently translate the revelations from my experiences in downtown L.A. into to my life in high school.

Sure, some of the lessons stuck with me and impacted my daily routine, but it seemed impossible to live in both worlds. As the monotony of everyday, selfish, teenage life eclipsed the great passion I once knew, I pushed my city dreams to the back of my mind, thinking to myself, ?Maybe someday I?ll really be about this stuff.?

It was this very desire that drew me to Chicago for school, and lately I?ve been reflecting on my growth since graduation.

From my perspective, the greatest catalyst of my personal growth and change has been getting physical distance from the world I had grown comfortable with. Hundreds of miles away, I didn?t have parents or old friends to hold my hand as I made decisions and explored a brand new world. Each experience and lesson was totally my own.

I noticed that, as usual, I have been most drawn to eccentric people. One of the things that make my North Park friends so interesting, I think, is that they all care about something outside themselves.

Some of my local friends are heavily involved in the ?hardcore? music scene (aka ?that screaming music?), and within that community exists a saying, ?No hate, no drama, no care ever.?

The phrase most often refers to politics, religion and other hot topics of a similar nature. My friends sometimes use the phrase in jest. For instance, if a conversation starts to get a little pointed or uncomfortably intense, the person might mutter, ?No care ever!? and exit the conversation, effectively dismissing the argument and diffusing a potentially tense situation between friends.

I aspire to live out the first part of that phrase, ?no hate, no drama.? I see no need for either of those things. It?s the second part, though, that gets me thinking.

?No care ever.?

I could see how choosing not to entertain ideas of a debatable nature might keep one from starting drama with peers and feeling hatred. The ?no hate, no drama? is achieved by never caring enough about anything to get heated and initiate disagreement.

The more I think about this, the more I am assured it is not the way I want to live.

I can?t imagine being so apathetic that nothing would ever move me to action. I have chosen to let my experiences?both positive and negative?shape me, and most recently I have discovered the strength of my voice. I can?t fathom a world where I kept quiet.

We must be able to find a balance in our caring, though. It is essential that we learn to form opinions and express them with gentleness and respect, without stirring up drama or cultivating hate. It?s OK to discuss issues with people who possess vastly different beliefs; in fact, that is how we learn about the world and become well-rounded individuals.

I believe we were created to care; it seems to me that an apathetic person is taking up space in a world that desperately needs change. We absolutely must care.

I recently read a quote by ?Beat Generation? writer Jack Kerouac that grabbed my attention and pretty much packs all my feelings into one very long sentence.

?The only people for me are the mad ones. The ones mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time. The ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing but burn, burn, burn, like fabulous roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars, and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes, ?Awww!?

So?care. A lot. Always.

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