Find Yourself! Self-Discovery in College
As a kid, I looked at college students as fully fledged adults, on track to their professional careers. BOY was I wrong. I suppose I can only speak for myself. To all those that feel they match this description, I applaud you! In the case of myself and many other students I know at this university, a more fitting description would be an amorphous blob of a person being shaped by every influence that enters and leaves their life. This process of discovering what you are and what you want to be can be overwhelming at times. However, I think with a little guidance or a touch of effort it can be a truly fun and fulfilling one!
I recognize the irony in telling another person how it is they should find themself, so I won’t attempt to do so! Rather, I’ll use the limited experience I have to make some general suggestions, or maybe help make it all feel a little less big!
Avenues of Exploration
In my own experience, songwriting has been the most prominent means of exploration. Through writing about my experiences, emotions, and the people in my life, I am able to gain so much perspective that I would be without. Poetry would also fall under this same category I would say. Creative writing isn’t for everyone, but if you enjoy the world of figurative language it can open so many doors! I truly believe anyone could give it a go and get something out of it.
Another wonderful avenue to pursue the many facets of you is art (in all forms!). I support working with paint, clay, sculpture, collage, video art, mixed media or any other artistic outlet. By projecting your internal process outward you are incidentally discovering new things about your own mind and the person you are and want to be. Oscar Wilde once wrote, “Every portrait that is painted with feeling is a portrait of the artist, not of the sitter. The sitter is merely the accident, the occasion. It is not he who is revealed by the painter; it is rather the painter who, on the coloured canvas, reveals himself.” Although he is referring to portrait painting, I believe this applies just as effectively to any medium. Whenever you create, you are intertwined with your creation! Look real close and you might learn something.
Journaling! Oh boy oh boy this one is so great. The way I utilize this tool strays from the usual form of “Dear Diary, today I…” Instead, I just try to bring to the surface buried thoughts and emotions from the day that stick out to me. Just by giving these thoughts the time to be at the center tells me so much. If you’re struggling to pick out those thoughts that need centering, try making a list of things that excite you. Or maybe a list of things that make you curious? See where that takes you.
Clubs! Clubs! Clubs! Living on a college campus is a truly rare circumstance in your life that allows you to be immediately immersed in a truly wide array of communities. You are at the epicenter of Vermont’s young population, filled with other equally curious and confused students in the same stage of their life. This means a wide variety of clubs that create community around the nichest areas of interest. Pick one and give it a go! It can’t hurt to try.
When on a quest to find one’s identity, what better place to go than one of the many identity centers on our campus! Our four centers: Interfaith, Mosaic, Prism and WAGE cover a range of big questions surrounding student identity and are all safe spaces. Feel free to pop into one of these centers anytime or attend one of the events they put on! You can find all of these events on our calendar.
I often find myself getting hyper-fixated on my major and completing degree requirements when completing my course selection. While this is VERY important, and of course you are in college to get your degree, you are also in college to learn! To feed your curiosity and witness it flourish into passion. If you have some wiggle room in your degree audit, take the opportunity to take some electives. Explore topics that fascinate you as taught by masters in the field.
This one is big. It didn’t really fit into the other two categories, but I felt I couldn’t write this blog without touching on it. Relying on others to inspire you and spark the love and energy that establishes how you want to navigate the world is essential! In my own experience, I have family members and friends who have set huge aspects of my identity in motion and others who have been the root of a shared passion. I wouldn’t be me without them! At times though, this can be a double-edged sword. It can be easy to become so immersed in following the ones you love that you forget to be aware of your individuality. Sometimes, I have to remind myself that I can deeply admire the traits of someone close to me and recognize that they could not be farther from my own identity! And that’s alright.
If you managed to make it past my majorly cheesy anecdotes, then huge props! I just couldn’t help myself. I hope you managed to find something in these words that helps in any way. Regardless of how your journey to finding yourself takes shape, you will always be on it. And it’s impossible to fail at being you.