Be firm in your convictions, but be nice Print
Youth Column
Written by Erick Rommel, Catholic News Service   
Thursday, Apr. 21, 2016 -- 12:00 AM

Stand up for yourself. You're told it's important. You're told if you don't do it, you shouldn't expect anyone else to do it for you. You're told it's necessary so people don't walk all over you.

Everything you're told is correct. But there's more to consider.

Part of knowing when to stand up for yourself means knowing when you shouldn't have to defend yourself. There are some things in life that require no defense. You shouldn't defend yourself when those topics arise.

First and foremost, there is no need to defend your religious beliefs. Whether you're devout or more casual in your faith, your faith is exactly that: It's yours. It makes you who you are. Embrace it. Share it. Use the challenges you face to make it stronger. Don't let anyone take it away from you because their beliefs are different.

Never feel obligated to defend your friends or significant other. You pick the people closest to you because they have meaning to you. They make you complete in ways you never would be if you were entirely on your own. Others don't have to like those who surround you, but they do have to accept them. If they don't, they're saying they don't truly accept you.

Get an education that matches your passions. If you decide higher education isn't a good fit, don't let anyone convince you otherwise. I know many people who attended college out of obligation. Few stayed long enough to earn a degree. If you choose college, pick a school where you feel comfortable. The Ivy League isn't for everyone; neither is a state school. Your place is in an environment where you're excited by the opportunities that surround you.

Be passionate in all your beliefs, especially your political ones. As much as some people believe there is one clear, correct path, chances are that they're wrong, no matter what that path may be. Very little in life is black and white.

Finally, never feel obligated to defend your personal needs. Sometimes we need companionship. Sometimes we want to be left alone. These needs should be respected, just as we respect others. If you need to get away, find a way to do it. Don't feel guilty. You'll feel better and be a better part of your community if you listen to yourself.

While these areas of life require no defense, that doesn't mean you shouldn't listen when people ask questions about the choices you make. Doing that would be indefensible. You don't have to defend your choice in friends, but you should always be aware of what others see. They'll see flaws you miss. We all have them. Always embrace friendship, but be cautious before putting trust at risk.

If you choose to bypass higher education or choose an unexpected school, listen to what's said in response to your choice. Be true to yourself, but use the counsel of others to strengthen your confidence in the choice you made. Use their perspective as you continue to seek your truth.

Don't be so passionate in your beliefs that you're blind to those with different perspectives. Right is right, but dismissing the differing views of others who are equally as passionate is wrong.

Some things in life require no defense. Be true to your beliefs and considerate to others while doing so, and you'll be showing who you truly are, not through confrontation but by example.

That's the best way to stand up for yourself.

Erick Rommel is a former staff writer for The Catholic Spirit in the Diocese of Metuchen, N.J. His column is syndicated through Catholic News Service.


Youth Calendar:

- View full calendar
Please support our advertisers:
About the Youth Page

How do kids your age live out their Catholic faith?

Check out this new Catholic Herald Youth Online Web page to find out!

This Web page is a place for youth in the Diocese of Madison and beyond to learn about their faith, see how others are living out their faith, and voice their own thoughts on Catholic issues.

You, too, can be a part of this Web page. Just submit articles and photos to: Catholic Herald Youth Online, 702 S. High Point Rd., Suite 121, Madison, WI 53719. If you send articles or photos via e-mail, put "Online Youth" in the subject line and send it to: info@madison   Digital photos must be in TIFF or JPEG format and at least 150 dpi.

We look forward to hearing from you!