A Contentious Friendship

At Villanova, we believe that it is our similarities that make us strong, but our differences that make us stronger. Please tell us about a relationship that you have with someone who is different from you and how that has changed who you are today. (1 page double spaced)

If you had walked into my freshman history class, you might have seen two girls arguing vehemently over a controversial topic – contemporary politics, world religion, you name it. You would have likely thought there was no possible way the two girls could be friends. My relationship with my friend Jess has a thorough history of disagreement. Our polar political views have led to zealous debates, but these arguments have opened my eyes to different opinions than my own and led me to rethink my own beliefs.

Jess is a tenacious liberal and I am a firm conservative. Moving to Boulder for high school, I realized I would have the unpopular opinion on many issues. Coming from a Catholic, all-girls middle school, I found myself defending my beliefs and trying to persuade others of my viewpoint only two weeks into freshman year.

My and Jess’s first debate was on abortion. We were sitting next to each other, but we were so passionate that we raised our voices to a level as if we were across the room from each other. Throughout the year, we continued to argue about different issues. I would often pick presentation topics that I knew she would object to, such as tax policy. Our teacher was always proud that after heated debates in class, we were still able to go eat lunch together and be friends.

Toward the end of freshman year, our teacher assigned a mock trial of Edward Snowden. Jess and I were both put on the defense team. We went from trying to tear each other’s arguments apart, to building one together. We found that our different views led us to create a stronger case, because we were able to anticipate the other side’s arguments and find holes in our own.

Our relationship has changed some of my beliefs: I have become more moderate on some issues, and strengthened my beliefs on others. Jess’s feminist views have rubbed off on me a lot. When she received a scholarship to create a women’s empowerment workshop, I was thrilled to participate and support her project. However, I am still strongly pro-life and for a flat tax structure. Through Jess, I have learned to be open-minded, be respectful of other points of view, and defend my beliefs with persuasive arguments. Jess and I have been able to set aside our differences and recognize that our political leanings are not the end-all, be-all of our relationship. At the end of the day, we have more similarities than differences. Now, when I meet someone with different beliefs than my own, I see it as an opportunity to learn why that person holds that opinion and to see things from another perspective. I see opponents in debate who, after all, could be friends through it all.

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