In the mind of a teenager

“The universe is the ocean and we are all ice cubes,” Chloe Tahmasebi (12) said. “We are all the universe being pulled into its condensed form, and we don’t want to keep taking from the universe, but we don’t want to melt into the universe because that will cause harm. We are all connected because we are all ice cubes floating in the ocean, so every decision we make will cause condensing or melting, and your decisions should reflect that.”

This idea is the philosophy with which Tahmasebi guides her actions every day.

A philosophy, defined by Merriam-Webster, is “the most basic beliefs, concepts and attitudes of an individual or group.” Each person has one, and each one is different and defined by one’s experiences.

Being raised by an agnostic father and a Christian mother, Tahmasebi developed her own philosophy around an idea found in many religions: “to be a good person.” Additionally, she found guidance in astrology; Tahmasebi sees astrological energies as an influence on life.

This is not a universal experience; no two peoples’ roads toward personal philosophy look exactly the same.

For Zahra Imbrahimzade (11), the journey involved something similar to Tahmasebi’s: religion.

“Growing up with religion didn’t exactly leave room for me to create my own original philosophy that didn’t center around it,” Imbrahimzade said. “It did help me create a very strong basis for what was right and wrong, but I still have my own ways of thinking. I think about life beyond religion.”

Choosing which aspects of religious philosophy she aligned with, Ibrahimzade found that many religious morals matched how she wanted to live.

“[Religion] isn’t my whole life, but it is a support system I have to fall back on, something I use to help me move with purpose,” Imbrahimzade said.

Religion is not the only influence when it comes to developing one’s philosophy. Some, like Cassidy Taylor (11), believe that it is solely someone’s experiences that shape their approach to life.

“I believe that we are created through our experiences and what we do in this world,” Taylor said. “Although we are raised a certain way with specific beliefs, it is really when we step out of our comfort zones and live for ourselves that we create philosophy.”

For Taylor, these experiences often involve others.

“My philosophy stems from meeting new people who give me the space to grow and be who I am and cultivate what energy I want to put out into the world,” she said.

Social sciences teacher Austin Wade has had the opportunity to watch his students develop their own philosophies throughout high school. According to Wade, a student’s philosophy can change completely in just one year.

“As a sophomore you are just so excited not to be a freshman that it becomes your personality. Then you get to your junior year and you’re like, ‘Oh s***, I have to start deciding what I’m going to do with my life,’” Wade said. “It’s a really big shift in one summer, where you have to face the expectations put on you about what you should be doing.”

However, while a student’s outlook on life can change fundamentally between grades, Wade believes that the true development of one’s philosophy comes after graduating.

“The day you graduate high school, you are left with an empty thought in your head that’s like, ‘Oh, I’m done, what’s next?’” Wade said. “I think that’s when philosophy tends to be built: in those first few summers after high school.”

Regardless of what philosophy someone might develop, there’s no one right answer about what that philosophy should be. According to Tahmasebi, that’s why we cannot judge anyone else’s way of life.

“Personally, I love astrology, and I think a lot of times I’m treated like I’m dumb because of that,” Tahmasebi said. “We have no idea of what’s real. We don’t know what started the universe, and because of that, we have no right to tell anyone else what’sright.”

Perhaps the beauty that defines human experience is the individual power to create your own philosophy. There are no rules and there’s no formula. It’s ever- changing and chaotic, subjective and imperfect, and yet it can be an unwavering source of purpose.

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