By Amari D. Pollard
My whole life I’ve always tried to differentiate between how the world sees me and how I see myself without blurring the lines between the two. And I’m sure everyone at some point in their life has struggled with this separation.
When entering college, there is the perception that students need to discover themselves. To experience all the new things that college has to offer in the hopes of getting closer to unearthing your true self.
Since entering Le Moyne I have found that my personal desire to better understand myself better has been heightened each passing day. Maybe it’s the fact that this is the first time I’ve been free to decide things for myself, without the constant influence of my parents or the fact that I have this strange idea in my head that with the experience of college comes the attainment of self-understanding. But I think it’s really the fact that I’m growing up and I’m technically an adult, and when you’re an adult you’re supposed to know who you are. You grow up, you “find” yourself, and you become confident as that person… Right?
Nevertheless, even if that is supposed to happen, for some reason I’m wondering: Do you ever fully know who you really are? What even really defines you as a person?
Well apparently the things that society believes define us-family, appearance, race, ethnicity, social class, etc. – have nothing to do with it at all. But if all of those factors don’t define us as people, then what does?
I wish I could have such an optimistic view of the world to say that my family or skin color or whatever else has nothing to do with who I really am, but that would be a lie. The truth is, a majority of the experiences that shape and define people stem from these factors in some way.
Perhaps the reason I’m so apprehensive to accept that rationale is that I’m not exactly sure who I am without all of those things. When you strip away all the superficiality and effective social dynamics, you’re left staring at your core. You are left raw and open. Which can be unsettling because that requires your being fully comfortable with who you are. The real challenge on this journey might not be finding yourself, but becoming at ease with the person you know you are.
All throughout high school I was referred to as an Oreo because I didn’t act like the stereotypical black girl and I was so afraid that that word would always define me. Even though people in college still refer to me as that, I’ve learned down this path of self-discovery that I’m perfectly content with being unorthodox because that little aspect of me doesn’t begin to cover my whole being.
Understanding who we are isn’t just a teenage thing, or a college thing, but it’s a life-long thing. All day, every day we uncover things about ourselves that we never knew before. We get caught up in defining who we are not only to ourselves but to the world, when in truth, we should really be focusing on and appreciating all the parts that make up the equation, not just the end product.
Picture courtesy of Amari D. Pollard