The typical fields we are introduced to in high school such as mathematics, science, and the social sciences are dedicated to an understanding of what and how. But an important subject that often isn’t taught in high school, philosophy, is dedicated to understanding why. It is the frontier of questions that are left unanswered by the current methods of research that exist in other established fields. Throughout my life, philosophy has tremendously impacted my ability to think with an open mind and has shaped my outlook on life in incredible ways, leading me to live a more fulfilling life than I ever imagined.
Growing up in a religious household, I never really questioned my own beliefs. I was afraid to question my traditional values, not because I feared how my family would react, but because I was terrified of moving away from the comfortable ideas of my religion. This all changed in high school when I became friends with a group of kids who ultimately introduced me to a lifestyle of philosophy. Conversations between me and my friends were full of mind-boggling theories that we had read somewhere over the weekend or that we had discovered on our own. All of the sudden, lunch time had turned into Philosophy 101! As I exchanged ideas with my fellow philosophers, I slowly gained the strength to reject the values that had been the foundation of my whole life and built up the courage to jump into the unknown.
Once I opened myself up to a new uncertainty about the guiding principles of the universe and morality, I became exposed to a whole new world of ideas; ways of life and possibilities that I had always been too afraid to approach because of the threat that they posed to everything I thought I knew. I became immersed in this new world of thought where no conversation is off-limits and every single theory, no matter how radical, is a possibility until proven otherwise. This is how philosophy changed my life, and how philosophy could change yours if you let it. It might not sound very inviting to question the very values that have guided you through life, but I promise you that the feeling of wonder and freedom with this lifestyle is far better than the comfort of certainty.
So put yourself out there: immerse yourself in the world of philosophy and go wherever your mind takes you. Expose yourself to the ideas that scare you and question everything that you know about life and morality. Learn to love not having answers to the most important questions. Read the thoughts of the greatest thinkers humanity has seen, and take in every beautiful, terrifying, and enlightening word. Live your life looking for solid foundations of truth and build upon them only with absolute certainty. The universe is a beautifully complex puzzle, and what better way to spend your existence than by exerting your wonderfully human ability to think rationally about the mysteries that have stumped our ancestors for centuries. Live by these principles of open-mindedness and acceptance of uncertainty, and perhaps you will find that a life of searching is far more fulfilling than a life of understanding.