Hey, My Name's Daniel.
I'm eighteen, and a recent high school graduate. I'm new to Freeland, WA. And I've got a few huge secrets.
The years of my life that shaped me were spent in relatively rural Plymouth, WI. I say relatively because while there was a movie theater, a run-down mall, a collection of auto dealers and some industry, there were no buildings that really made anyone feel small. If there were groups of minorities, I never found them. It was for the most part, a white, conservative and Christian area. If you were different, you stuck out like a sore thumb. And somehow, I made it out alive with liberal morals and no fondness towards religion of any kind. So what happened?
I pride myself on being a kind person, with an eye to the sky. I dream big, almost always with good intentions. I wasn't always like that. The church's first few attempts to indoctrinate me seemed to work. At eight, I was singing gospel songs in the shower and selling my possessions to better the church. I had a view of the world that I know equate to wearing blinders. All was good in my life. It was as it had always been, a Christian bubble. The bubble held strong until I was about thirteen. The church we attended liked to say that youth left "because church wasn't cool," but in reality those youth were opening their eyes to rest of the world for the first time, making their first big decision. I remember sitting with my laptop, browsing YouTube videos. As everyone knows, ads are a pretty big part of keeping it free. So, this Pandora ad appeared. I seriously couldn't have cared less, "Why would I want Pandora, I have iTunes?" I thought. Right as I was about to skip the ad, the music started. I had never heard anything like it before. Welcome to Pop Violin, i.e. Lindsey Stirling.
To say I was obsessed would be an understatement. I listened to Lindsey Stirling, and her exclusively for a week. Over time I became more curious about who she was, so with one click I was watching an interview. That's when I learned that she was a Christian, too. Only, she wasn't a Christian like me. She was a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, i.e. Lindsey was a Mormon. Conservative, Christian me was pretty bummed that my new favorite artist was a Mormon. I couldn't possibly listen to her music anymore, because I'd be supporting her faith, right? So that's how Mormons, ironically, broke me.
I began to question everything I had been taught about the world, and perhaps more importantly my religion for the first time. I swear that the moment I asked myself the question, “Why are people who believe different not as good as us?” that the world stopped. The blindfold was gone and never going back on. Year after year the walls that had been built around me crumbled. I questioned everything anyone told me, and I believe what I understand.
All-in-all, this could’ve played out differently. I might’ve never seen that ad on YouTube. I might’ve never asked myself why, but all I now know is that I did. In 2017, I finally gave up trying to justify everything every religion I could find said that didn’t sit right. I embraced the world as it truly is and became a newly minted Atheist. Atheism makes sense to me. No one is degrading another human for being gay, or treating women like second class citizens.
So, in my time that I spent in Wisconsin I changed quite a lot. I’m a completely different person than I was before. And I’d have to say that that’s for the better. I’ve still had my share challenges, maybe more than I should, but I won’t be talking about that yet. Different piece for a different day.
So, what's next? Below are some topics that interest me and that I go more in-depth on, my most recent tweets and a page with some music.
@danielghuffman on Twitter