Without giving you my entire life story, let me share the nuggets that will help you understand how I got here. As of this writing, I’m 27 years old.
I grew up in a tiny town in Wisconsin called Necedah, and the entire community was preparing for an end of the world scenario, as predicted by Revelations in the Bible and many other third-party prophets, seers. I grew up in a bubble, with little access to the outside world- no TV, only approved movies, mainly about religion. My dad was somehow able to convince my mother to approve some Star Trek episodes, and I silently thank him for that frequently.
Since my sheltered upbringing could be described as a throwback to a much earlier generation, perhaps the early 1900’s, many people have suggested that it was probably a nice thing not to have modern culture influencing me as I grew up. And you know what? It was practically paradise.
People were very kind and generous to each other, there was only the rare conflict at school, I never knew any bullying. We shared our resources, and had a deep sense of togetherness. There were always tons of neighbor kids to play with, and because we were so rural (and the land we lived on was promised to be protected by a local seer) our parents didn’t worry about crime or abduction. We were allowed to explore and be free- the dinner bell sounded when it was time to return from our adventures in the forests. We were imaginative- we built tree forts and created elaborate live role-playing games; we went fishing and road our bikes, and in the winter we built amazing snow forts, created sledding challenges, and ice skated in our flooded and frozen front yard. We created storylines and shot little movies for ourselves, and hosted radio programs, with our parents as the audience.
Did I miss TV? Heck no. Of course, I didn’t know what I was missing-I never knew it as part of a lifestyle. Knowing what I know now, would I have changed how I grew up? Not in a heartbeat, it’s a huge part of who I’ve become.
Then one day, my parents told me we were moving back to the City, Chicago suburbs. I was half-way through fourth grade. I was devastated.
After being home-schooled for the rest of fourth grade, I entered public school in fifth grade. The best way to describe the next few years of my life was the ultimate culture shock. Right away I started questioning why no one else was like me, and why weren’t they taught to be kind? I started asking my mother right away if I could wear jeans instead of the ankle length dresses so I would stop being teased and fit in, and she always told me, “Dare to be different!”
Ok, so I promised I wasn’t going to give you my life story, but my early experiences had a ton to do with why I decided to start this site, and a huge part of loving each other is to understand each other.
In a nutshell, my entire public school career all through high school was learning that everyone was incredibly different than the people I grew up with, and that everyone had different beliefs than my family. No one else thought the end of the world was imminent, and I gradually started to doubt all of the cherished beliefs of my Catholic upbringing. If my family was right, was everyone else wrong? That didn’t make sense. I met many Christians who didn’t act like the Christians that I knew, and saw hypocrisy often, even in respected members of the church-including our priest.
By the time I got to college, I was a bit of a mess. I didn’t have faith in the Catholic Church anymore, and even began to question God. I relied on external acceptance to feel good about myself. To feel worthy of love and belonging, I felt like I had to fit in with everyone else. I didn’t know how to be honest with my family about my disbelief, and I didn’t know where to go with my questions about existence, life, meaning, and purpose.
Luckily, I chose psychology as my major. Actually, it wasn’t luck- I wanted to study psychology to understand why everyone is so different, and why so many people have such headstrong beliefs that contradict with one another, and often with their own actions. I wanted to understand why conflict was such a huge part of the interactions I witnessed. I wanted to make sense of the world. And religion wasn’t doing a good job of explaining the whole of humanity, only subsets of people that have incredible faith. At times philosophy felt like a semantic word game and didn’t seem to do the best job of explaining individual motivations and differences. But psychology was the science of people, of the brain. I felt perhaps this was the way to understand other people, and myself, better.
Learning more about science, psychology, philosophy, and other religions, namely Buddhism, I began to feel comfortable with my quest for truth. I began to realize that more often than not, we all focus more on differences than similarities, and the more I learned the more I realized all of these fields have a ton in common. All are trying to explain the big questions of who we are, how we behave, why we’re here, what is our purpose, and how we should then live. Rather than defaulting to the “I’m right, you’re wrong” attitude, wouldn’t it be more fruitful to discover where all these ideas intersect?
And so my concept for Think. Love. Live was born; the philosophy to think about all possibilities, to prioritize love in every way, to live life to the fullest, and to grow in the values we cherish. I aim to provide content that overwhelmingly wouldn’t disagree with anyone’s belief system, though it could challenge it. I do not aim to shake anyone’s cherished beliefs, but I do aim to ask questions I’ve had over the years in my quest for truth. I believe that a big part of a spiritual journey, a journey to “know thyself” and our connectedness to everyone else, includes asking a lot of questions. And as humans who are capable of such questions, is it not in some rite our duty to ask them? If not, what is the ultimate truth? Do you know?