I remember the sun beating down on my sweaty neck as I hauled a compressed version of my belongings into a room built to torment a claustrophobic ant. Hundreds of students bustled around me, green with nerves as they balanced desk lamps in laundry baskets with the Bed, Bath, and Beyond sticker still attached. Behind them trailed parents, either animated with excitement or weak with emotion.
This was my introduction to adulthood. Accompanying the freedom and independence was a number of socially instilled behavioral norms all necessitated by the need to fit in and succeed. There was coffee to wake up, adderall to focus, alcohol to socialize, cigarettes to sooth anxiety, and other substances demanded by the pressures of collegiate culture.
The one thing that wasn’t there was myself or “myself-ness”; a word I invented to describe the search for a defining characteristic that allows an individual to be completely self-satisfied. I thought these four years were about finding “myself” and seeing what I want to do with the rest of my life. College provided more questions than it did answers – the search for “myself-ness” was not concluding but barely beginning.
First, I had to ask a question; what is finding “myself”? This idea that there is something or someplace or someone out in the world that will introduce me to “myself” is truly baffling. An external force is expected to change my internal wellbeing and transform my identity? The idea is absurd but I cannot deny that I want it with every fiber of my being.
After four years of exploration, education, and enlightenment I am expected to conclude my journey the moment I accept my diploma. Surrounding pressures insist a college career must be followed with a nine to five job when in actuality the only necessary sequel to graduation is a journey of self- discovery. This journey may be rockily paved with student loans, the atrocity of minimum wage, and immeasurable amounts of self-doubt but the result may uncover unknown wants and desires that lead to a finer tuned idea what the “future” may hold.