College is a strange time. For most people it’s a sort of this weird transition period. And what I’ve found in my time in college so far is that most undergraduates seem to be on this quest to find their identity. Whether that’s where they came from, who they are in school, or who they hope to become. Everyone seems to want to have that one thing that you can say after their name that gives them a sense that they are doing something important and worthwhile.
And think about your own friends, and the things you say about them to other people on campus so they can figure out who you are talking about. So there’s your friend Sarah Grace, and she’s pre-law. And then there’s Ben who’s a third generation student at this school. And don’t forget your friend Sally who is in a sorority, SGA president and a summer orientation leader.
I think that having this feeling of identity at college is great. Students are doing incredible things and they do deserve recognition for it. But, sometimes I wonder: do they do all of those things because they really want to, or do they just like the sense of identity that comes with job, elected position, club, etc.? I had a job on campus last semester that gave me that sense of identity, and I loved that feeling.
I thought, finally, I am doing something that people know about and that makes me important, and that makes all of this worthwhile. And I let myself identify with that position so much, that when some things changed, that made me realize that I needed to leave my position, I considered leaving the college before thinking about and deciding to quit my job.
I think back on this moment and I feel so ashamed. How could I have let myself identify so much with an on campus job, that I considered leaving the school that I loved because I needed to quit? It seems so irrational to me now. But, in that moment I saw myself losing essentially my identity here at the college. I put it before being a student because for those few months that I had the job, I let it rule my life.
That was the most important thing to me, because that is who I was, and I thought that it was who I wanted to be. I let myself get so caught up in other people’s opinions of me that I did not give myself time to think about my own happiness. I assumed that because this job gave me this identity, that it was a good thing, even though it was sucking the life out me.
Since then I have done a lot of soul searching. And even though that whole experience is something I would like to forget, I am thankful for it. I’ve learned so much about myself, so much more then I would have ever known if I had held on to that job that I was sure gave me my purpose and identity in life. I know now, that I am a student before anything. I did not come to this college to have a job. I came here to learn, to get a degree, and to meet some amazing people. And I feel that is my identity now. I am Emily, a student. And right now that’s all I need to be.
I have another job on campus now, and I am really enjoying it, but I feel it is important to remind myself everyday that this job is just something I do in my spare time. I really am happy there and truly enjoy the work, but it’s secondary to me being a student. Looking back, I am just angry with myself for caring so much about what other people thought about me. But, I’m not letting other people’s opinions of me rule my life anymore.
While I agree that it is important to try new things in college and learn who you are, I think it’s important to always remember why you went there in the first place. Everything other than being a student is, in my opinion, secondary. And whatever anyone else thinks of you is as unimportant as they are.