The Art of Challenging Everything

Think For Yourself

Going to class in college is something that is all a blur to me. I think it’s a blur because I rarely wanted to be there, and when I was there, nothing memorable ever happened. But I came to a realization. As a student, I rarely challenged what professors were teaching me. I would just passively sit in class, accept the information that was being taught as true, and then go to the next class and do the same thing. One day though, that all changed.

During one of my business lectures, the topic of value came up. To address the topic, my professor used the example of watermelons from a town called Rocky Ford. He said that Rocky Ford produces some of the most delicious watermelons in the entire world. Because they’re so common here though, we only pay around $5 for a watermelon. But he went on to say that in a place like Japan, a Rocky Ford watermelon sells for $3,000 because they’re incredibly valued; due to their scarcity in that part of the world. After he stated this shocking “fact” no one said a word, including myself. All I remember thinking is, “Wow, that’s crazy.”

After class I went up to my professor’s office to talk about an assignment. We talked for about fifteen minutes, and then he said, “Did you notice that no one even questioned me when I said a watermelon cost $3,000? I like to make up things like that just to see if anyone is paying attention.” Well, obviously no one was. But it led me to a much more profound realization: I had been going through college simply just accepting what I was being taught.

I left his office that day disappointed in myself. How many other times had I just accepted absurd information? More importantly: how many opportunities had I missed to reject the status quo? Build on a new idea? Or go against the flow? And it wasn’t just me. It was rare to see anyone actually engage in the lecture and question what was going on. When someone tried to, the rest of us would turn and look in disgust. “I’m just trying to make it through this class. Why are you slowing down the process?” I would think to myself.

Now, I’m ashamed that I missed that opportunity to join in the discussion. Throughout college, many of us just unknowingly accept information that is being thrown at us. We rarely take the time to actually think and consciously decide whether we agree or not. I urge you then to challenge everything that is presented to you, and think for yourself.

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