Illustration by Patrick Ferris.

In this HEYDAY of social media platforms like Snapchat and Twitter, quick and concise thinking seems like the only thing I’m ever doing—shooting rapidly thought-out texts and sending off brief and ephemeral Snapchats. These things can be great in their own right; however, having a limit on character and word usage can also be constraining and frustrating. I often find myself craving a place where I can have a different kind of truth; a long-winded and limitless one. Because there isn’t a good social media platform for essay-length rants, I came up with some things to do to find and write out your truth.

Keep a journal.

Journal-keeping sounds very self-explanatory, but it can be trickier than people think. It can be really hard to keep a consistent schedule with a journal, especially if you’re trying to write every day. When I started keeping journals, I felt obligated to write every single day, even when I had nothing to talk about. That can be an ineffective way to find some sort of “truth” because you’re forcing yourself to say something when you might not have anything to say. What I find helpful is writing journal entries only when I really have something to think aloud (in writing) about. That way my archive of thoughts is that much more passionate and true to me.

Make an opinion box.

Write down a few of your opinions on pieces of paper and put them in a box or a jar. Then write down all of the questions you have about an opposing political view, as well as your own opinion. One day a week, pull one piece of paper out of the container. Give yourself the week to think deeply and strongly about the opinion/question you’ve selected. A week from when you pulled out the piece of paper, answer the question in writing, or write or think aloud more fully about the opinion you’ve selected. Challenging yourself in this way will turn the little thoughts and ideas that ring inside your head into explicable opinions.

Read opinion pieces.

Although it’s possible to get overwhelmed by others’ opinions, sometimes I learn more from hearing other people’s perspectives than by listening to my own. Which is why I really like to read opinion pieces. As I’m reading, I become aware of whether or not I agree with what the author is saying. Understanding what I agree and disagree with helps me clarify and sculpt my own opinions. While reading, I like to annotate the articles to keep track of how my opinions are forming. When marking up the article, I highlight important or interesting pieces of information and circle passages that raise questions. For more in-depth notes, I like to use Venn diagrams or just jot down ideas, agreements, and disagreements. I also like to read through the whole article without taking any notes and then at the end summarize the main idea of the text.

You can have fiery, passionate opinions and find your way toward the truths that you’re looking for. It’s important to remember to spend time thinking for yourself, especially when most interactions tend to be fleeting. When I stop to think about my opinions on current events, politics, and whatever else is going on around me, it helps me find the more profound truths buried inside me. Thinking in this way helps me discover my opinions, and most important, my truest self. ♦