Staying True to Yourself: A Message to College Students
Guest Blogger: Lauren Bailey
Every year, as summer comes to an end and the weather cools off, thousands of students across the country head off to college. Offering the chance for a fresh start and the promise of new opportunity, this is a rite of passage for many and symbolizes the beginning of a new era. With many settling into unfamiliar places, they will undoubtedly make new friends, learn new things and even change a bit—and that’s completely normal. Personal growth is a natural, healthy part of life and is to be expected.
However, what’s not healthy is losing sight of what YOU deem important as an individual in hopes of fitting in and being “accepted.” As someone who works with and around college students on a regular basis, I’ve seen it happen all-too-often—the lonely college freshman finally manages to make some friends, and, in an attempt to hold onto them, compromises his or her own values. Depending on the situation, this can seem harmless and innocent enough at first, but in all honesty it really isn’t.
College is the time you should be figuring out who you are as a person. You should be defining what you deem important and figuring out what, exactly, it is you want out of this crazy thing we called life. And, maybe it’s just me, but that doesn’t seem too easy when you are being untrue to yourself and ignoring your inner voice in hopes of being part of the “popular” crowd.
What’s more is this concept of the “popular” crowd is so ridiculous. I know, you have been told all of your life that it’s what’s on the inside that’s important and your “coolness” factor doesn’t matter, but there really is truth to these statements. Your definition of what is fun, and “cool” might not align with your roommate’s. You and your sorority sisters might disagree about ideological principles. Whatever the situation, you need to realize that it’s OK to have differing views of the world than those around you—after all you are an individual with your own unique experiences, are you not? So, during this time, learn to celebrate and accept your individuality rather than mask it. What do you think you’ll gain from depriving yourself from what makes you happy, anyway? ABOSLUTELY NOTHING.
Now, while some of you might already understand these concepts and find it ridiculous I’m listing it in an article, others will have to learn these lessons the “hard” way. You’ll have to make the wrong friends, go to the wrong parties, change your major for the WRONG reasons, and that’s OK, after all college is supposed to be a learning experience, just make sure you take the lessons to heart.
You’ll probably do a lot of growing up in college and come to realize this on your own if you haven’t already, but the only person you should be living your life for is you. If you have a passion for something, pursue it. If you have a disdain for something, avoid it. So what if everyone thinks your career aspirations are ridiculous—chase them anyways, because only you know what you are and aren’t capable of and what will ultimately bring you the most happiness out of life.
So, while it may be all too tempting to listen to outside influences telling you to do this or that, remember to first consult your heart and gut on the matter. These are important things to remember throughout your life, and you should carry them with you as the years pass. Life is too short to be anything but completely true to and honest with yourself—remember this and you’re sure to live a life of happiness and fulfillment.
About the Author
Lauren Bailey is an education writer and freelance blogger. She welcomes comments and questions via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.