This past weekend, I traveled into the Santa Cruz mountains for an overnight religious retreat. I was excited to take part in it because in the midst of midterms season and among all of the stressors of my first month in college, it was a good way for me to ground myself and be in touch with God. I went with an open mind to meet new people, challenge my faith, and grow in trust for my future here at Santa Clara, as well as with my relationship with God.
Within the first few meetings of my small group, I noticed a trending topic of conversation - how everyone was nervous to find friends their freshman year of college with whom they could be their "true, authentic" selves. I found this idea a little bit confusing - how could I know who my true self was if I was growing every day? I understand that maybe certain character traits are ingrained within us from birth, but generally, I feel that I am becoming a different version of myself each day as I am challenged by daily choices and life lessons.
Throughout the rest of the retreat, this idea stuck in my mind; maybe I was the crazy one who didn't have herself figured out, while everyone else did?! How do people our age even know whether the version they are now is who they want to be for the rest of their lives? It unsettled me deeply that others felt they could no longer change and grow into better, more fulfilled, more emotionally intelligent, or more impassioned people.
In hindsight, I think I grew in myself during the retreat because I knew that although others may have felt they were completely developed, I loved the fact that I don't feel complete yet; there is a yearning in my heart to keep learning, exploring vacancies in my heart, achieving heights I never knew I wanted until I reached them. I loved that I felt incomplete - I love that I am not yet satisfied. I don't believe anyone can have an authentic self, because each day we learn from others things we never knew, about ourselves, and therefore, we will never be just one "true" version of ourselves.