April Jaynes is a full-time reporter for Ohio Valley Publishing, under Civitas Media. She produces multimedia content for the Gallipolis Daily Tribune, The Daily Sentinel and the Point Pleasant Register. April obtained a Bachelor of Science in Journalism with honors from the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism. She writes for fun and as a personal necessity. Written word is her zeal.
I’ll start by saying this: I didn’t “find myself” in college, and you probably won’t either.
Take out all the soul-searching hype that the media likes to hover over this time of your life and you’ll probably realize that all you ever really “found” was what was there all along—give or take an environmentally conscious bumper sticker or a political candidate button.
Admittedly, I naively entered college with the notion that it was going to be the time of my life when I figured it all out—including myself.
It was supposed to be the time of my life when I had lengthy, intelligent, philosophical conversations with peers beneath blue skies and fluffy, white clouds on the college green. It was supposed to be the time of my life when I was going to do and be exactly what I wanted. It was supposed to be the time of my life when my “real life” would start.
Instead, I’m still trying to figure out if I’m a feminist or not, and what sort of advice is good medicine versus the kind of advice that just sticks a Band-Aid on something that needs stitching. I’m still figuring out exactly what, where and who I want to be—and most of the “intelligent” conversations I had with my peers during my college years consisted of stress-induced rants and completely illogical humor that I’m pretty sure the average passerby would be downright bewildered to overhear.
Make no mistake: This is real life. But it might not be playing out as the “real life” you or I initially anticipated.
Then again, maybe you’ve had the sunny day, Socratic conversations with peers that I only fantasized about. Maybe you’ve had an eye-opening epiphany about exactly what you’re going to do with the rest of your life. Maybe your “real life” really is taking off there in the heart of your campus.
If such is the case, that’s beautiful. I mean it—and you can consider me unashamedly envious of you.
Ultimately, this is the time of life when you do some serious construction to build yourself. You add some things. You subtract a few things. You learn what you’re made of. You learn what you’re not made of. And you figure out what kind of stuff you want to be made of.
Learning who you are doesn’t mean you’ve finally got it all together. It’s not a finished product we could stock shelves with to sell. It’s a priceless process that you can’t replace with any other experiences but your own.
It’s good to know what sits at the root of you. Know how it got there and what parts of it should stay. But don’t be afraid to revise and take a step back to see something you might have missed otherwise.
Chances are, what’s already started to develop in you is only going to grow. That’s what roots do.
Ultimately, the best thing we can do for ourselves in college is to know where we came from and simply let ourselves grow, however it so happens, remembering all the while that we’re people—not products.