College is about “finding yourself,” say the counselors and admissions officers. No, it’s about “creating yourself,” says my friend Russell, musician and liberal politics junkie extraordinaire. Regardless of who you are, there is an enormous preoccupation with identity and experiencing college.
College is a staging ground for reality. You’re apart from parents, but still in the arms of a (generally) paternalistic institution that looks out for your interests. You’re an adult, but with enough support to find your way.
People express this longing for identity in different ways – political action, cultural expression, work, Greek life, and other things.
For example, I can identify as brown, Asian, Third Worlder, Asian-American, musician, journalist, scholar, Adventist, Christian, theist, left-of-center, cultural and civil libertarian, writer, reader, transplanted aristocrat, proletarian…the list goes on.
Halfway though college, I really don’t see the point of “deciding who I am” in college – it seems to be more about building habits than establishing personality. Most of that work’s already been done.
All that said, I’ll confess that I bought into it, too. LA, for all it’s flaws, is vastly more exciting than San Bernardino. Regardless of its reputation for balkanization, insincerity, and image-obsession, LA’s an amazing place to be. For all the opportunities I have, as cosmopolitan as I might sound, I’m still a small-town Inland Empire boy in a lot of ways, a little out of his depth sometimes.
I lost a lot of time and a lot of sleep over it all, too!
But I’m over it. Two years is enough time to be confused. Field of study? Settled. Role outside of class? Settled. Opinions? Not so much, but that’ll always be that way. So, honestly? Identity crisis over. Thanks, Gavin.