It’s a week after my high school graduation. The house that once reverberated with the sounds of flowing champagne and high spirits has trickled to an eerie quiet. Everything is finally over. There is no more being swept under the ocean of college applications, superfluous tests, and fears of social ineptitude.
I am left alone with my thoughts, just mine. And, what do I find there? A mess. I’m not exactly sure where the influences of the people who once surrounded me end and where I begin.
I think to myself, I can’t go to college like this.
College is a new frontier, a representation of a bright and shiny future. I don’t want to enter this future being the same person I was in the past.
There is one thing that does not appear anywhere on a dorm checklist. You won’t find it between the mountains of forms one has to fill out before even stepping on campus either. However, it is something that is absolutely necessary to bring– a sense of self.
Much of our generation has missed the opportunity to develop a sense of self early on.
High school was about trying to look picture perfect. We hustled to make the right grades, ran to this club meeting or that extracurricular, and joined the right volunteer programs. Most of us had one thing in our vision, getting into our dream college with the perfect resume. In the process, we forgot how to be more than walking bulletin boards of our achievements and honors.
Now, I’m not trying to talk down on this sort of strategy. For many of us, all of the sacrifice and extra work yields miraculous results in the form of an acceptance letter. Additionally, academia is one of the things that actually do make us happy.
Still, a little more diligence is required in piecing together who we are in order to make the most out of the next 4 years in college.
If you’re anywhere near college age, you’ve probably heard the saying “what you put into college is what you get out of it.” This statement applies to more than going to classes and capitalizing on internship opportunities.
The direction of your success and development as a person is dependent on who you put forward those 4 years.
If you want to get the best out of your college experience, you need to go with your best and most authentic self brought forward. By doing this, you’re giving yourself the perfect opportunity to grow and be successful in your own skin.
Having an idea of the kind of person you are and who you want to be before stepping foot on campus can protect you from being easily persuaded and making ill-advised decisions.
In college, you are free to choose what you are passionate about and what ideologies you subscribe to. What you value is yours to value alone. That’s a lot of pressure for someone who just grew out of being told what to do everyday of their life.
If you don’t develop a strong sense of yourself, your life can end up feeling extremely shaky when strong influences come into play. And there is a lot of that in college.
You’ll make more discoveries about yourself throughout college. But, the most important things you’ll learn will be built on the foundation you have laid for yourself beforehand.
Want to know what kind of discoveries you’re in for? I’ve made a list of bloggers’ posts that share what they learned in their first year of college. Scroll to the bottom to find it!
Once you understand yourself, you’ll know how to take opportunities that fit you best. You’ll have friends who better suit your personality. You’ll capitalize on your own strengths, and be able to acknowledge your weaknesses.
How can you figure out yourself?
Take this summer to really do some soul-searching. No, you don’t have to spend hours meditating (although meditation is a great way to center yourself).
- Solitude: If that word made you go “ugh!” inside, boy do I have a post for you! I wrote all about the benefits of choosing to be alone, and how it can actually help you figure out who you are. You can read it here. To summarize, spending some quality time without external influences can cause your true self to emerge and it often results in a more confident and self-aware you.
- Make Goals: Part of knowing who you are is establishing where you want to go. Write down substantial goals that will lead you towards self-improvement. For one, once you’ve accomplished the goal, you’ll know the new and improved you. Second, you’ll know your abilities. This results in a stronger understanding of yourself. Make sure you’re writing these goals down too. You are 42% more likely to complete a goal if you write it down.
- Document: Sometimes it just takes journaling and allowing your opinions and thoughts to form concretely. Write about what you like and dislike, who your friends are, etc. It’s even more important to look back on what you’ve written in the past to connect the dots. You’ll start to get a better sense of your personality and ideals by doing this.
There isn’t a surefire, step-by-step way to finding yourself. As long as you’re taking the time to be aware of your actions and thoughts and truly process the why behind them, you’ll know yourself more and more.
Freshman Year Experiences
Endless May: “The Most Important Lessons Learned Freshman Year”
Mostly Morgan: “44 Things I learned My Freshman Year of College”
Love Megan June: “50 Things I Learned My Freshman Year of College”
The Classic Brunette “Tips and Advice for College Freshmen”
As Told by Sunny “5 Things You Should Know How to Do Before College”
Society Being: “What I Learned My First Year at Community College
What has been your experience going into college? Tell me about it in the comments!