personal identity, fitting in, interdisciplinary
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Education

Outside the Box: Where Do I Fit?

Fitting in is always a difficult thing to do, and I've had to struggle with it a few too many times

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Outside the Box: Where Do I Fit?
from Michael Joel Green

Since a young age, I always felt that I didn't fit in anywhere. Not at school, within the teenage community, nor with groups that I supposedly was a part of.

I moved to China at age 6 and switched schools at age 10. I'm a "third culture kid", which means that I was raised in a culture other than the country on my passport (where I'm considered native) for a majority of my childhood. Most of the teenagers I've been surrounded by are just like me. We are exposed to peers from different backgrounds, cultures, and religions, effectively broadening our worldview. The collective experience of "international school" is a period of growing up that is marked by tremendous growth, for everyone.

But despite the many commonalities I shared with these peers, I never truly thought that I was socially compatible with them. While most people were living wild adventures on the regular - going clubbing, drinking alcohol, taking cigarettes, exploring rooftops, and other associated activities - I stayed at home studying or spending time with my family. I'm not saying that I'm ungrateful to my parents and siblings for everything they've done, because I wouldn't have gotten this far if it weren't for their endless love and support. I've just always been reflecting on this aspect of my experience being a teenager, and this, I feel, is one of my regrets.

At the present moment, I find myself confused between two clearly-forming groups at my college. There's a group with all the Chinese kids (including those who either went to school abroad or in China), and the other has all the American kids. As a proud Chinese American, I didn't think it would be difficult to interact with either group, but I've realized that as time goes on, I gravitate towards the Americans. I genuinely wonder why, because all of us are young adults and mostly discuss the same topics. Regardless, I shrug it off because I also know that we're all new to each other and new to college. I'll feel better in time.

My sense of confusion with certain aspects of my personal identity also extended to my academic interests. The one thing I was 100% certain about was that I wasn't cut out for fields like science, technology, engineering, and math. Throughout middle and high school, I paid closer attention to ideas in the humanities and social sciences. Later on, I decided that the 'hard humanities' like history, English literature, languages, linguistics, and philosophy weren't right.

So how did I arrive at my current academic dreams? Having participated in Model UN for years, I began researching political science and international relations. Then, after taking two related courses simultaneously this year, I felt that it was also not suited for me. Eventually, I turned around and reflected back on the summer camps I participated in, where I took a variety of psychology courses. But psychology alone wouldn't quite satisfy my needs for slightly higher salaries, so I sought the business world.

Another quirky interest of mine is art/design, but I'm also not an artist in that way. The question now becomes, how to combine psychology, design, and business? A defining moment in my career goals happened at a career day hosted by my high school. An executive from the advertising agency BBDO presented his industry and many of his projects. I was captivated, and an internship at Ogilvy this summer has fully cemented my desire to study business with concentrations in marketing and international business (peep at the MUN roots) with a double major in psychology. I hope to work for businesses to create the "remarkable" and leave a positive legacy on the world.

The story here is not that I'm a young woman who doesn't really feel like she fits in anywhere, but that through self-discovery and active exploration, you'll find opportunities and ideas you never thought possible. Additionally, that college is a little intimidating.

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