Opinions, Column

Am I This Person Forever?

Going back home for Winter Break made me feel like I had somehow failed at achieving the full college experience. My response to “How was college?” was not filled with crazy stories about parties in the Mods, exploring downtown Boston, or eye-opening experiences that somehow led me to the major of my dreams. 

I wanted to be a new polished person, yet I felt almost the same. I’ve always felt an expectation to change for the better as I grow older. My whole life I’ve been the responsible girl who studies all the time. Before I left for college, I think everyone was expecting me to change into someone who was more outgoing and rowdy. It felt like I was seen as a half-version of myself and the world was waiting for me to grow into a polished adult over the course of one semester. These ideas seem to be fueled by all of the articles and firsthand stories that people continue to tell about college being a life-changing, mind-altering experience. 

Often, people can gloss over the in-betweens of how rough it can be to find yourself during your college years. When the going gets tough we have a tendency to overlook hardship because we’re told we will be different and better people for it. 

Now that I’m here at Boston College I find myself constantly questioning whether I am making the right choices for this change. I want to remain responsible, but I also feel like I owe it to myself to be open to new experiences. I’ve tied a tight knot between pressuring myself to do work and being responsible. Consequently, when I decide to attend a culture show or go to the Organization of Latin American Affairs’ Night Gala, I become clouded by anxiety because all of my choices that require me to do something other than school work must be worth it. Needless to say, I don’t live in the present. I’m so wrapped up in trying to make the best of it that I don’t appreciate it for what it is. 

What adds more stress to this is that trying new things can leave you lost within yourself, because who even are you now? I have out of body experiences where I’m observing myself having conversations and questioning whether it is the real version of me. Ever have a moment where you’re laughing so hard and you internally ask yourself why you’re laughing so hard because it wasn’t even that funny? 

It’s weird that we question our own joy.  

It’s been quite exhausting always questioning my actions—whether they’re aligned with my values or aligned with who I was, who I’m becoming, and who I aspire to be. I don’t think I know who I really am anymore. 

I’m not the person who’d stay quiet most of the time. 

I’m the person who makes the effort to build connections. 

I want to be the person who isn’t afraid of initiating conversations. 

I’m not the person who avoids her emotions thinking it’s strength that allows her to do this. 

I’m the person who takes quiet moments to contemplate whether something hurts.

I want to be the person who’s able to differentiate dwelling on versus processing emotions. 

I’m not the person who stays in all the time because it’s safe.

I’m the person who cautiously says yes to open up my view of what I actually enjoy. 

I want to be the person who can enjoy the present without overanalyzing what this means for my character and who I’m becoming. 

We want to be someone we’re proud of. I came to college to become a different person. I wanted to do a complete 180 from who I was but in the best way possible. I don’t think it’s wrong to want to change, but it is flawed to want to constantly be making the “right” decisions. 

Right decisions based on what? Because it’s certainly not experience. We often want to make right decisions based on everyone else’s version of right decisions. I try to fit into these molds that everyone has of the perfect friend, perfect student, perfect acquaintance—the list goes on. This need to be the “right” version of myself in front of different people needs to stop. Feeding into what you believe others expect from you is what causes you to lose your identity. 

I shouldn’t have taken the almost part lightly when “I felt almost the same.” College isn’t a salon that changes you instantly after you walk out of its doors. Will you be a changed person? Yes. BUT, change doesn’t look the same for everyone. Your change could reinforce your ideals, make you more structured, or possibly allow you to let go of structure that’s holding you back. The problem arises when we try to formulate our change. This process is never linear; your inconsistent, emotional, and trainwreck of a college experience gets a pass too when it comes to building your character. 

Featured Graphic by Liz Schwab/ Heights Editor

February 27, 2022