Ranking important issues in your life

It’s all a matter of perspective

By: Autumn Barszczowski

The other day while sitting in my research class, a fellow student handed out a survey about his client’s brand. One question stood out to me as it asked respondents to rank a number of issues (like animal rights, feminism, etc.).

The idea of ranking the most important human rights or environmental causes in order from one to seven was a strange concept to me. However, since I am an advertising student, I understood that this helped researchers to establish my lifestyle, feelings and personality.

Ranking these issues felt like deciding which wound to try and heal first, at least in my mind. In some ways, it almost makes me feel guilty because in a perfect world, you would not have to decide which was more important to you because you’d be able to dedicate the same amount of time to worrying about each.

But the world isn’t perfect so without consciously knowing it, we begin to rank the issues in our mind. As a bisexual, cisgender white woman who grew up in an impoverished neighborhood, I have been faced with and witnessed a variety of issues in my life.

I was presented with the grief and stereotypes faced by my black classmates. I was faced with the beauty and lady-like standards that I was supposed to follow as a woman. I watched as my friends feared for how society would view them due to who they loved or who they were.

I guess what I’m trying to say is, when these issues are constantly in your face, they tend to rank higher. Putting a numerical value to an issue almost seems silly, but they speak a lot to who you are as a person and what you are faced with in life.

You do not consciously decide that something is less important; it just doesn’t feel as urgent when it is not constantly affecting how you live your life or even the lives of those around you.

I attended a public middle school with a large population of black students in a poor neighborhood. We did not focus much on climate change because we were focusing on diversity, and acceptance was much more relevant to the students.

Immediately following that, climate change and environmental issues grew in importance for me because my high school focused on recycling and emphasizing environmental issues alongside diversity in race, gender and sexual orientation.

Over the course of the past few years, I’ve been able to see how these issues became more or less important as you grow and learn more about the world. The importance of these issues at that time in your life reflect the world you were faced with and the perspective that you had.

That is perhaps the one upside to examining our own individual rankings. You can see exactly where you are or were in life just by the issues you fight for, and how you have grown as an individual.

Originally published in The Globe
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