Standing your ground in a world full of people trying to force us to compromise our conservative values is no easy feat.  This is true no matter what place of worship or political spectrum that we were exposed to by our families, if any: weren’t we raised to stick up for what we believe in?

In August of 2013, I moved into my stuffy dormitory and began my first day of new student orientation. My father, as a surprise, had left a plush Mike Wazowski toy wearing a Monster’s University hat. (The movie had just hit theaters earlier that summer.) While I immediately made the connection of the Monster’s Inc. cast attending college, it was my dad’s accompanying handwritten note that struck me.

Other than sharing his beaming pride and expressing that he would miss me, my dad wrote a tidbit of advice from the Monster’s University movie: the characters all realized in the film that the best way to fit in while in college was to be themselves.

What if we as conservatives could truly believe that on our liberal campuses? Surrounded by progressive, left-wing professors and socially liberal peers, we may find ourselves fearful to share our conservative convictions.

Three years and many credit hours later, my Mike Wazowski doll has journeyed with me on every trip to each new dorm or apartment. As juvenile as it may seem, he has served as a reminder of where I have come from: a southern, conservative, Presbyterian family, and one that I am very proud to be a part of.

While the film focused on Mike and Sully’s adventures and struggles as they pursued Greek life, there are parallels to what it’s like to be a Christian and a conservative Republican experiencing higher education.  I know that I’m fortunate to have found my church family and my College Republicans (“CRs”) family on my university’s campus, and I’ve written before about the ways in which being a part of a CRs chapter has benefited me.

More importantly, however, finding these communities has helped me stay true to myself, and has fueled me to find strength and value in my “far right to moderate” voice.  I know that God has a plan to restore the freedoms that America was founded upon, and for America to be led in the right direction–despite our worries with the current political arena. My same father who left my the Monster’s University doll is still the same father who has asked me what I’ve thought about Donald Trump from the beginning.  Country music star Miranda Lambert said it best: “I just smile and say God Bless.”

As my father said, Mike Wazowski was right: being myself truly has been the best way to “fit in.”