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viewpoint

Reflections of a freshman

| Thursday, April 27, 2017

At the beginning of the school year, someone told me that high school was about “finding yourself” and college was about making the most of who you are. Upon hearing this statement, I mentally sighed in relief. “That’s good,” I thought. “Who I am now is who I will be for the rest of my life, and now I get to move on with that phase.”

To some degree, what that person said was true — high school does involve a lot of “finding yourself” — but I disagree that “finding yourself” is an activity limited only to high school. It doesn’t take much reflection for me to point out several moments this semester where I felt like I understood who I am a bit better. From the crucial moments of choosing my friends to deciding how I was going to act and spend my time when my parents were no longer close enough to tell me what to do, I have realized some important things about myself, which I think this is normal for a first year away from home.

Several months past the benchmark when I was told I was finished “finding myself,” though, I still don’t think I have hit the mark where I can stop “finding myself.” While I understand who I am much better than I did when I was in middle school or high school, I believe life still holds key moments where I will surprise myself. What about my first year after graduating from college? What about the moment where I have to stand up for something I didn’t know I believed in so strongly? What about the moment when I use strength I didn’t know I had? I think these moments will all hold lessons for me to learn more about who I am.

Upon reflecting on these ideas, I think we need to change the language we use when we talk about learning about ourselves. Oftentimes, we use “finding yourself” in a negative way, as if it implies someone is too young and has a lack of focus in his or her life. Such a connotation would explain why I felt relief upon hearing that I was finished “finding myself” and could move on with my life.

Instead, by re-characterizing “finding yourself” in a more positive light, as if it is a lifelong ride, one that we never fully get off, I think younger students will feel less pressure to “find themselves” so quickly and we can simply enjoy our experiences, learning a little about ourselves as we go. To start this rebranding, I vote we start with ourselves. Tell yourself that you still have surprises in store for yourself, and let’s go from there, changing perceptions of how we find ourselves, one person at a time.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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About Alexandra Muck

Alexandra Muck is a Notre Dame sophomore majoring in business and economics. Originally from Dallas, she currently lives in Howard Hall.

Contact Alexandra