I’m nearing the end of my freshman year at Wellesley College, a Seven Sisters college just outside of Boston, Massachusetts. Alma mater to Hillary Clinton, the school has been called a liberal bubble” by WGBH. The school community – students, professors, administrators, alumnae – is quite left-leaning, with many students identifying as liberals, Democrats, socialists, and communists. As a conservative, I’ve faced social and academic challenges, all of which facilitated personal growth and deepened my passion for conservatism. Here are 5 lessons I’m taking away from my freshman year:

Some people won’t like me for being a conservative, and that’s okay

I vocalized my beliefs in border security and the detriments of radical feminism on social media my first semester. I was not surprised that I lost several classmate followers, even some who I’ve attended classes with and who live in my building. My experiences have taught me that some people cannot accept me for who I am. But, not everyone needs to like me. I’m confident in myself, and I seek friends who can put politics aside and see me as more than my party affiliation.

Being honest about my beliefs can be hard, but it’s important

I’ve also received dirty looks from students for citing Fox News in class discussions.  Being open about my beliefs can lead people to make negative judgments and assumptions about me. But, the only alternatives are to be silent or go against my values. I hold my convictions close to my heart, and I stay true to myself. If I have something to say, I say it.

Finding a like-minded community is key

I joined the College Republicans my first semester, and I’m so glad I did. Having a political community on campus has given me opportunities to meet other committed conservatives. These girls give me inspiration, pride, and empowerment! Solidarity is so important.

Politics aren’t everything: people are more than their voting patterns

Some of the closest friends I’ve made in college are Bernie Sanders supporters. Requiring my friends to share all my beliefs would be immature and short-sighted. I cherish my friends for their kindness, empathy, and dependability. These are the traits that really matter in friends. As students, we’re all just navigating the challenges of college life together. Why let politics divide us?

Be proud to be a conservative

I am uniquely me! I own my values everyday, and I remain authentic. Yes, I speak and live my truth. No, I don’t conform. I stay true to my love of God, freedom, and country.

While being in the political minority at my college hasn’t always been easy, the experience has pushed me to become a more informed, committed, and socially conscious conservative. I’m looking forward to learning and growing even more in the years to come!

Jenn B