Identity. A definition from the Merriam-Webster online dictionary. “Sameness of essential or generic character in different instances.” Our identity is dependent on who we are…most of the time? We are who we consistently pretend to be in multiple circumstances. Unless you live true to yourself while around various people, then you are who you are when facing different challenges. How am I supposed to know who I am when I am striving to be different from the person I think I am? How will I learn about the girl staring back at me in the mirror when all I want is for her to be who she’s supposed to be?
The most horrifying thing about college is not fitting the image that we have had in our heads of who we are supposed to be. Straight A students who party on the weekends, but miraculously keep it together because that is how it should be. You are supposed to be surrounded by people all the time because if you are not, people do not like you and you are doing something wrong. You have to always be in a good mood because negativity doesn’t roll with people. You cannot be scared because no one else is and you are the problem.
It is not that I am not enjoying myself. I’m pretty sure it has been three weeks since I started at Stevens and the past few weeks have been interesting to say the least. I have been on two official friend dates to New York, I hosted a movie night in my dorm that was fully equipped with pizza and candy, and I learned to play some game called Egyptian Ratscrew. I have wonderful friends that I could boast about for as long as you would let me. But as much as those things are helpful, they are not helping me figure out who I am. They are not shaping me into the person I am, they are helping me to successfully transition into the person that I want to be.
Who am I when no one is around? I am scared because no one is there. I feel like I am doing something wrong because I am alone. Writing this article, I am alone in my room wondering if I should be doing this in the library. I am wondering if my friends are feeling the same way or if I am alone in feeling like the world could crumble underneath my feet at any second and I would not see it coming. I think a lot of people feel the same way I do. I think a lot of people are as scared as I am and are willing to give up the things they like to be this ideal person they were always told to be.
Being new at a new school with a bunch of new people is a difficult thing. Trying to understand who you are away from your family and the things you know is also a challenge. But we need to talk about our fears, our dreams, who we think we are, who we want to be. We have to challenge what our ‘ideal’ identities are and we have to work to figure out who we are becoming in the process. You can be scared, but you aren’t alone. There’s a world full of people who feel the same way you do.