Redefine yourself through new experiences

Columnist and Columnist

Arguably the most common piece of advice given to students is to “be yourself.”

But how can you “be yourself” if you don’t know who you are?

Think of your time at the University as your golden opportunity to find out.

In a reflection paper assigned during the first week back to school, I was posed with the following questions and more about my identity:

“Who am I?”

“Who do I want to be?”

“How am I different from others and how do these differences impact our lives?”

Before coming to the University, I would have described myself as a young student in northwest Ohio on the path to independence and satisfaction through whatever career choice I chose.

Now, I look back and marvel at the vagueness and generality I supplied about myself.

Not only does my description sound like a stock character in a boring novel, but I appear to only care about what I can get from the world instead of what I can give to it.

Now, as a senior, not only do I know more about myself, but I’ve also learned multitudes about those around me, thanks to the variety of classes I’ve taken and experiences I’ve had here.

Classes on different cultures like ethnic and women’s studies, along with the internships I’ve had and groups I’ve joined, have greatly impacted my life.

I learned and continue to learn that experiencing the world around us helps give people insight about themselves, and only by figuring out our own identities can we expect to have meaningful relationships with others and make real change.

At first, each of these seemed daunting to me.

I felt nervous and uncertain about each of them, and also a bit embarrassed because I had little prior knowledge of the topics in question.

But once the classes, internships and group meetings got going, all of those negative feelings disappeared.

The opportunities I’ve jumped on at the University have taught me about diverse topics such as what makes people act or think the way they do, structural inequalities in society, how people can have privileges over others simply because of their skin color and other things I never fully understood before, allowing me to better understand myself, my peers and community members.

Class discussions offered different perspectives and personal anecdotes that brought the readings and assignments to life and showed me how I could make a positive difference in the community.

Do yourself a favor and take advantage of everything the University has to offer.

Join groups or classes that seem foreign to you.

Really listen to your peers and coworkers during your classes and internships.

You’re in college to learn, but that doesn’t mean you can only learn from books and assignments.

Learn from life, which is all around you, and help yourself become a better person as you help others.

Respond to Emily at

[email protected]