College has always been touted as one of the most transformative times in someone's life. And for a multitude of valid reasons: the first step into adulthood and independence, and often a step into a new place surrounded by new people. It's a chance to try new classes and clubs, cut your hair, change your wardrobe, maybe even find a fundamentally different set of values and identity. All of which have merit, and all of which I am excited about as a freshman. However, I feel as though there is often almost a pressure to reinvent yourself entirely once you get to college. That's what everyone else does, right?
I've known for a long time I wanted to move away for school, to push my limits and experience something new. That being said, very little could've prepared me for moving from Reno to Chicago this past fall. I've traveled plenty, but never moved. I've never started fresh, all on my own. And despite wanting it, despite knowing that it was what I needed to do, my first quarter was rather emotionally tumultuous. It was less homesickness, and more feeling a complete loss of place.
To say the change was overwhelming would be an understatement. I was grasping at straws of familiarity, taking comfort in the smallest reminders of the person I knew, from texting to old friends to looking over my favorite photos. I felt as though I was in mourning. Suddenly everything felt different, and I felt as thought I had to say goodbye to the person I was back home. It took me too long to realize that there were parts of myself I could hold onto, and steady myself in, while still continuing to grow. I didn't need to give up my central values or most important pieces of my identity. I can be open, and learn, as I'm at University to do, without reinventing myself. I came into UChicago liking who I was. I'd changed everything about myself in high school, completely surprising myself in who I decided I wanted to become. Which wasn't to say that I didn't want to improve and go further, I just didn't need to be of the mindset that I needed to let every fundamental aspect of myself go. For some, university is the prime chance to rebuild themselves from the ground up. But it's not a graduation requirement. Grow, learn, see and hear all the things you've wanted to and all the things you never even imagined. But, even amidst all the experimentation and freedom, hold onto who you believe you want to be.