There seems to be this big pressure in college to find out exactly who you are and what you want to be forever. It’s a sort of silly concept, to me, that we should just decide in college things that are likely to change several times throughout our lives.
That being said, I have learned a lot about myself since I got to Seton Hill University. Though I was pretty confident in who I was in high school, I can see now some things that hadn’t fully developed in my life yet. I would have never have called myself “awkward girl” back then, nor would I have openly written from this perspective.
I had the same trouble interacting with people then, but I wanted to hide it as much as I could. I now understand that my awkwardness is a part of who I am (and even occasionally endearing). I do have a better idea of what I want to do with my life than I did then as well.
So here are some things to keep in mind when you’re ‘finding yourself.’
1. BE PATIENT. Figuring yourself out is really a lifelong thing. You might have a shining moment of clarity where you suddenly understand yourself and know exactly what you want to do for the rest of your life. More likely, however, there will be a series of smaller revelations that you might not notice. Don’t force the issue too much. Go with the flow.
2. EXPLORE. Find out what you like. You probably know this to an extent, but maybe you’re missing something and you don’t even know it. Join new clubs. Hang out with new people. New things are almost always difficult. You’re going to be awkward. But if you truly love something, it’ll work out—awkwardness or not.
The tendency for me, as an awkward person, is to not participate. I join clubs but stay quiet. I go to events but sit in the back. What I’ve learned is passion is stronger than awkwardness. Every time.
3. BE YOURSELF. I understand that this is the most stereotypical and cliché advice of all time. Still, sometimes, I think our desire to figure things out forces us into changing who we are. Yes, change can be good. But there are things at the core of you that make you up. You don’t need to change all of that.
Part of being yourself is realizing that you are human. We all mess up and sometimes get ourselves in sticky situations. Keep this in mind and make safe choices. Just because you’re on this fantastic self actualization journey doesn’t mean that you can do whatever you want consequence free.
4. RESEARCH. Take a personality test. In high school I hated personality tests, but I took one recently in Senior Seminar and found it rather illuminating. I think because I answered very honestly with my first impulses, I got a really accurate answer. I’m an introvert (shocking I know) but I’m starting to understand how that changes my reactions to life and what I need to do to work with my personality instead of against it.
Find out what Hogwarts house you’d be in or even what tv show character you relate to at first if you aren’t up for the big professional test. This introspection, even if it feels silly, is valuable.
5. BE THOUGHTFUL. There is a tendency in our culture to be thoughtless. People tell us to do what feels good. We take easy classes and do just enough to get the grade we want. We try to live the life of a worry free vagabond floating like a tumbleweed. Well, that last one might be a bit of an exaggeration, but hopefully you get what I’m saying.
Sure you can do what feels good. Think about why it feels good. Consider what your desires and preferences mean for you. Take advantage of every single class, even if they are just fillers for the liberal arts core. Think about what you want to do. Think about the fact that you have no idea. This doesn’t mean you have to be an obsessive worrier like me, but rather that you can make informed choices and just generally be a productive member of society no matter what you’re doing.