​To Those Looking To Find Themselves In College
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​To Those Looking To Find Themselves In College

What it means to truly find your identity as a young adult.

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​To Those Looking To Find Themselves In College
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To Those Looking to Find Themselves in College:

This past June I graduated from high school. After receiving many sparkly cards and signing a dozen yearbooks, there are a few phrases I am currently quite weary of (Dream Big and Reach for the Stars, to name a few). However, there is one phrase I’ve heard tossed around by many of my peers lately, yet, in searching my yearbook, it was no where to be found. And not once can I recall dubiously wishing a fellow graduate to “Work Hard and Find Yourself” or “Hope you Succeed in Finding Yourself!” Honestly they would have probably found it quite rude.

So, let us take a minute to consider this finding yourself in college business. Somehow society has popularized the idea that we cannot truly discover who we are until we are until the ripe age of eighteen in a university classroom. All sarcasm aside though, what my peers and I are calling into question is our identity. For the first time in our lives we will be asked to truly grow into our identities apart from the guidance of a carefully crafted safety net of family members and neighbors. Be assured some chaos may ensue.

Let’s speed up a few years in the future. New wardrobes, new hobbies, a changed major, and a couple of piercings later – is this what you thought it meant to find yourself? Sure, these things are nice, and great external liberties of expression. However, identity and image are not the same thing.

We live in an image obsessed world – a side effect of not only advertisements, but the age of social media, has led to various issues such as eating disorders and body dysmorphia. However, our culture has rightfully called for an image revival to embrace individuality and uniqueness in everybody. Companies like Aerie Lingerie for American Eagle and Modcloth are just some of the few clothing retailers that have now vowed to not retouch their models. Americans now embrace diversity in size, height, nationality, gender, and more in media. Young adults are finally reclaiming their image. But again, what about their identity?

We’ve cultivated a generation of young adults who aren’t familiar with their identities but are constantly in connection with their image. Whether or not you put on makeup for your latest morning snapchat or you really #wokeuplikethis, your appearance has little to do with your identity.

The word identity can be connected to the Latin word ident or idem which means repeatedly. Definitions in the English dictionary include “the state or fact of remaining the same one or ones, as under varying aspects or conditions” or “the sense of self, providing sameness and continuity in personality over time.” Identity cannot be connected to our image, nor can it be connected to a concrete time in our lives. Since our faces age and different clothing trends go in and out of style, to base identity upon someone’s outer image provides shallow results. Digging even deeper then, that means our identity isn’t our hobbies, occupation, or place we reside. It can’t be our family, nationality, alma mater, or spoken language. Identity is an obscure thing inside our being that always is there. It’s a consistent marking of our beliefs, character, personality, and true-self from the time you were conceived until you die. Identity is not something we stumble upon in college.

That is not to say that the aforementioned qualities do not play a role in who we are – in fact they are a direct by product. Our identity is what determines our image, our occupation, etc not the other way around. Upon my research I found that a synonym for the word identity is distinctiveness. Our identities are distinctive not only in nature, but in design. The word distinctive procures a mental image of something both deliberately unique and set apart. Thus saying, your identity is not by chance:

"13For you created my inmost being;

you knit me together in my mother’s womb.

14I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;

your works are wonderful,

I know that full well.

15My frame was not hidden from you

when I was made in the secret place,

when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.

16Your eyes saw my unformed body;

all the days ordained for me were written in your book

before one of them came to be.” Psalm 139: 13-16

This verse is the beginning of truly finding yourself. Whether you are headed off to college, just celebrated your fifth birthday, or enjoying retirement you cannot truly discover your identity until you discover the one who created it. God, your creator and identity maker-in-chief, He is the one who distinctively made you with all of your unique qualities and quirks. I would encourage you, people who want to find themselves in college, find Jesus first. Dive into His Word, turn prayers into long conversations, and your Freshman Fifteen into fifteen minutes of daily worship (or even more). Don’t make your identity discovery so rudimentary like everyone else full of yoga retreats and beer pong. In fact, avoid that path altogether. When you get to know your Savior better, you will discover who He has made you to be. You are a Child of God made in the image and likeness of Christ. That is who you have been before even your earthly parents knew you existed. Own that identity and walk in it daily throughout your college experience.

So best of luck, warmest wishes, have a great rest of summer, and hey… enjoy finding your Savior in college!

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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