College is supposed to be the time of our lives. It is supposed to be the time where we look deep into ourselves and find out who we really are and what we want to do in life. We are expected to grow into respectable adults and establish an identity that will be a part of us for the rest of our lives. The only problem is that most college students go through identity crises because we have not fully answered the question of “who am I?”
For most incoming freshmen, the identity crisis situation is not a big deal because they just got their turn to roll some new dice in the game of college; ready to play and ready to win. The truth is that winning does not matter unless there is reason for it. Many freshmen that come to college believe they know who they are, but if they truly start to think about who they really are, then the doubt of reality begins to sink in. However, it really does not start hitting hard until sophomore year.
Sophomore year is decision-making time. It is the last year where most of the general elective courses are completed, so junior and senior year, the courses taken are the ones focusing on a sought-after degree. We sophomores may not have as hard of classes as juniors and seniors, but most of them have passed the identity crisis and know who and what they want to be as a member of society. Making those kinds of decisions as a sophomore can be daunting because most of us are reconsidering our major or have already changed it. We are not exactly sure about ourselves or if the decisions we are making are the right ones. In actuality, there are no right or wrong decisions, only the ones that shape our identities.
The best way to shape our identities is by living and learning. Not one college course can tell us who we are, but it can shape what we believe or possibly change a custom of ours, but all of these are just minor parts to the whole. Every experience we have whether it is from a party to one of our grandparents telling us one of those “back in my day” stories shapes our identity. Those are the experiences that stick with us and influence the decisions we make. People and places have the strongest influence in shaping our identities, which completely changes when we get into college.
The difficult part about college is that we have left home and are in a new place with new people that alter our identity we established before we got here. It is a world away from home where we learn to stretch out of the comfort zones we have grown accustomed to and expand upon our experiences, so we can further develop the person we intend to be. We leave the known for the unknown because we want an adventure that is not a straight path, but sometimes that path never straightens out and becomes never ending switchbacks up a mountain where we cannot see the peak because it is covered by clouds.
No matter where we are, there will always be an identity struggle, but college is the time where it happens most. It is a crucial time in our lives because the relationships we form in college will play a vital role in our initial identity. Sometimes the identity we create for ourselves is not always the one we expect or want. Perhaps we are not always who we want to be, but maybe it is who we need to be. Whatever the case may be, eventually those switchbacks up the mountain will plateau when the clouds have cleared, and a straight path will lead all of us in the direction towards a never-ending evolution of our identities.