Marc-Joelitza Montgomery is a writer and Year 2 student at BHSEC Cleveland. She is the recipient of the Literature of the Americas Award in the Spring of 2018. As well as the recipient of the World Literature Award in both the Fall and Spring semester of 2018-2019.

Class: Year 2 Seminar

Focus-Freewrite: Where do your values originate? 

Marc-Joelitza: Yesterday I posted a Snapchat asking my friends and followers “Who’s the most important person in your life and why?”. I wasn’t surprised with the results because about 95% of the people who answered this question said it was their mom. I was happy to read everyone’s response and see them elaborate on their answers. Those who gave an explanation mentioned how their mom shaped them into the person they are today. And how without her, they would be nothing. It made me happy to hear the way people described their relationship with their mother. Their answers showed deep appreciation, respect and gratitude. But if I’m being honest, I wasn’t fully interested in the similarities amongst the answers. Instead, I was interested by those who replied describing someone else. A father, a friend, a stranger, or a collection of people. I tried answering this question myself, and my mind went to about 10 different people. I have too many people that are important to me. Choosing one person made me feel guilty and dishonest. But the same way my friends and followers said that the most important person in their life shaped them into the person they are today, I was able to agree. For these are the people who introduced me to the values that make me, me.

Focusing on the focus free write question I had in Seminar yesterday, “Where do your values originate?” I decided to start off with a general answer. I mentioned how I felt like it was safe to say that people’s values typically originate from the people who are most important to them and the people who typically played that “role model” position in their life. But before I was able to share my answer, two of my classmates shared how their parents influenced the values they have today. And I thought most people would say that. This was true for me too. But I think our answers run deeper than that. Our values originate from multiple people. And when recognizing that, I wasn’t satisfied with just mentioning my parents. I felt like giving credit to only 2 wasn’t fair to the others who have impacted my life. So to help myself develop a well thought out answer, I reflected back to my younger years. 

Growing up, I always had company. Weiher if it was my parents, my cousins, my siblings, family friends or just friends. I never had one set “role model” who I grew up wanting to be like. But I had plenty of people who tried being the best they could be. And when one person wasn’t around, someone else always was. Such people were always playing an active role in my life and leaving an impression on me. But typically, when most people think of the person or people who influenced their values, they think of the person or people who set good examples for them. Furthermore, they think of the good tips and advice that was given to them. I too initially thought this way. I thought of the people who set good examples in my life, but the more I thought about it– it wasn’t entirely there good examples that influenced my values. Instead, I give most credit to the “bad” examples and mistakes that people made. These are what influenced my values.  

As I mentioned, I grew up around a mix of people. But most of them were older than me. So with that being said, I always had the opportunity to hear and see the mistakes that these people made in life. I was rarely told to cover my ears or go to the other room. I was allowed to listen. I was allowed to see. But still recognizing a child was around, these people always explained to me the consequences of their wrong actions. On top of that, they reassured me of the power of my mind– my intuition, telling me that the way I think is what will guide me throughout life.  Without saying it straightforwardly, they pretty much taught me to not blindly rely on what others say is wrong and right. I was taught to examine situations and make well thought out conclusions myself. It sounds kind of harsh but a lot of people didn’t show me the person I should be, but they rather showed me the type of person I shouldn’t be. And I appreciate that. Mistakes make up a person. They teach us valuable lessons. So every time I heard a bad story, I didn’t see a “bad” example or “bad” person. What I saw was a human. A human who did both– messed up a lot and shaped my values. 

So now it’s time to get more specific. I have to answer the big question, “Where do your values originate?”. My values originate from both outside and inside forces. I’ve had good people in my life and I’ve had bad people in my life. Both have influenced my way of thinking and helped influence my values. But with this, there’s an internal aspect involved. You can’t truly value something just because someone else you love does. You can’t truly value something because you were told to. You can’t truly value something even if you were taught to. In order to value something, you have to ponder on that thought, on that thing, on that person and make your own decision. What you value really speaks to you and moves you. I mention this important fact because looking back to my snapchat survey where I asked, “Who’s the most important person in your life? And why?”. The answer that stood out to me most was a girl who replied, “myself”. She felt selfish for saying that and mentioned how it was actually her dad. I told her that I really liked her answer and that it isn’t selfish to say that she is the most important person in her life. That it’s okay if she believes that she was the person who truly developed her values. At the end of the day, it’s up to you. Your values make you, you. And I related to her answer. The people in my life give me an idea of what I should consider to value, but it’s up to me to utilize the information the world offers to figure out what I truly value. 

In conclusion, today I value balance, mindfulness, commitment, growth, hard work, leisure, friendship, honesty, passion and much more. Before I chose to value these things I made use of my resources. I read books, I talked to people, I listened to people, I searched the internet, I watched youtube videos and explored social media. But this information means nothing if you don’t put it to use. So I also spent a lot of time in my head forming thoughts and opinions. I was patient with myself. I allowed my mind to change a lot if what I valued at the time didn’t feel right. And till this day I’m not 100% set on my values. I know my mind will change 100 more times. And that’s okay. We should do better at giving true answers. We should do better at thinking before we say. We should pay more attention to the origin of our values and not discredit ourselves for the hard work we do.  It’s  all about the information we receive and what we do with it. So, where do your values originate?