Not for the Sake of Arguing

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I like arguing. I get at enjoyment out of stretching peoples’ minds, testing their mental agility, gauging their ability to respond to my often far-fetched remarks, waiting for a mental lapse to strike. Many people label me as difficult, ridiculous, competitive, but truly all I want is to understand more; understand whom I am arguing with, understand their point of view, and understand the world around me. There was a time when this wasn’t me.
I remember a time when I used to simply recite the information I learned in my head, and regurgitate it on paper for a grade. I never thought about why, I never thought about how, I never thought. It used to be black and white, right and wrong, and no in between. Life was bland and simple. This was four years ago, right before I came into high school, before I was conscious of a world larger than my immediate surroundings; whether I was in Portugal, Angola, or France visiting family; my vision was restricted to that which directly affected me.
Then I came to AP English class, the most difficult class I have taken, am taking, and will take. In English, I would always receive the same commentary on my essay, “back up your argument,” and “why is this important?” Eventually, I attempted to demonstrate I had a grasp for big picture, I used their evidence to affirm my ideas and with time I improved. I began to learn that there isn’t always one right answer, but instead many different methods to achieve the same goal, just like there were countless other people writing the same essays as me who clearly didn’t think exactly the same way as I did. In the same way, I use to see arguments as absolutes, I either win or lose, and so I would test their ability to respond to my far-fetched remarks, waiting for them to slip up, so I could pounce and crush their arguments.
Ever since I can remember, my mom would always ask me how what I learned at school and I would always respond with “nothing” as reflex, not looking into the matter any further. Whenever she asked me much about anything, I would give the shortest response, then going on in whatever it was I was doing. Aside from the everyday questions, there were the other type of questions, the commands disguised as questions, the ones I only really had one way of answering, because it was either her way or her way, unless I wanted to suffer the consequences, which would be a very emotionally energized lecture on whatever topic, and “the right way” to do it. My mom is the boss, the Queen of this house, at all powerful- she pushed a car by herself when it died- I couldn’t just say that she’s wrong; she has 42 extra years of experience and wisdom. So the only rational thing to do was give her examples of other ways to achieve the same thing and luckily for me it worked! I don’t get “the proper way to do this” speech and it’s great that I can do things in my own way, the right way for me, but it’s better knowing that my words have weight, that words can solve a conflict, that action isn’t always necessary.
I don’t argue for arguments sake, or to win but instead for the sole purpose of understanding every side to a story, putting one’s-self in somebody else’s shoes. I love to argue because I want to understand the big picture and all its different angles.





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