Oh, what a crazy weekend we\u2019re about to enter. In light of this Friday, I\u2019ve decided to share one of the most eye-opening experiences of my life. Now, I don\u2019t think this is about politics \u2013\u2013 this is about my experience in the world as a seventeen-year-old, and a little bit of wisdom I\u2019ve picked up from somebody who\u2019s less like me than anybody I\u2019ve ever met before. His name is Joe and he\u2019s from Texas. He speaks with a thick southern accent, was given his first gun for his eighth birthday, is more than a little misogynistic, and wants to join the army. Joe certainly isn\u2019t your typical Wilton boy. Joe is the furthest you could possibly get from me \u2013\u2013 a die-hard liberal from the northeast. A couple of days into our service trip in last summer, I was convinced that he was my worst nightmare, and I would avoid him. That didn\u2019t last. On the third day we got partnered up to paint a room together; the two of us alone in a room for eight hours. After an hour of silence, he spoke. \u201cYou can\u2019t shut me out just because I\u2019m a Republican. You know, it\u2019s important to be uncomfortable sometimes.\u201d The most meaningful, interesting, seven-hour conversation I\u2019ve ever had, began with that challenge. Joe told me of growing up with the Bible and guns in Dallas, where his mom runs an anti-abortion clinic and his dad owns a gun shop. I told him about my Reform Jewish, New England home of proud Hillary supporters. We didn\u2019t shout at each other or argue, we just accepted and shared views; just as we weren\u2019t looking to change each other \u2013\u2013 just understand each other. He was right: I can\u2019t just ignore what makes me uncomfortable, or stay in a safe space forever. Thanks to Joe, I gained a new perspective on the world, that I would never have grasped unless we were put in that room together. I don\u2019t agree with any of his views, but that\u2019s okay. He has become one of my close friends, and we still joke about our rocky introduction. Joe taught me the importance of discomfort, in personal growth, and helped me see the world through a wider, clearer lens. At a time like this, the most important thing we can do is listen. Believe me, I am by no means perfect myself. I\u2019ll be the first to admit that I\u2019m opinionated, I love to talk, and I always think I\u2019m right. But I\u2019m working on it. I know very well if I only talk to people who think like me I\u2019ll never really learn anything. We simply cannot improve ourselves if we stay inside our own bubbles and refuse any beliefs that don\u2019t align with our owns. As soon as we let go of our prejudices and open our minds to hear the other side, then we\u2019ll start to move forward. Julia Foodman is a senior at Wilton High School. \u00a0She shares this column with four classmates.