Choosing to Speak Your Truth

Coming to college is an amazing time of liberation and exploration. You’ve been given a blank slate. No one knows you, what you’ve done, or who you are. In a way, that sounds terrifying. It’s as though the reputation you worked so hard to build, and the associations attached to you, disappear. The game’s been reset. For some people, that sucks and it’s fair to feel that way, but for others, this is your time to shine.

No matter what high school was like for you, it doesn’t matter coming into college. Unless you’re playing sports on the university’s team, people won’t care that you were a forward for your high school Spartans soccer team. Unless you come to school with a giant badge of your accomplishments and your associations, people won’t know and they won’t hold high school as a standard for who you are now.

That’s because college is about beginning fresh for everyone, not just you. Even though you might -  somewhere deep down - be proud of all the things you did for your high school senior theatre group, people here aren’t really interested in that. No one cares about what you did, past tense, they care about what you’re doing, at this moment. They make the same decision that you will make every day: do I hold on to what I know, or do I move forward to unknown possibilities?

As cliché as it sounds, you really are standing in the entryway into the beginning of something much more important than a lot of the trivial things that happen here; you look out upon the world in front of you and you are given the chance to decide who you want to become.

With all of this tabula rasa available at your disposal, you have a lot of things to consider. You can cling to high school and the friends you had there, choosing not to explore anything at all and remain the same. That’s fine, everyone has an approach. You can choose to venture into new hobbies, interests, or even sports to find a molding you might fit into. Or, besides all that, you can choose to speak your truths.

Speaking your truth isn’t just disguising an insult as brutal honesty, let’s be honest. Speaking your truth is choosing to share who you are, what you like, maybe what you dislike, and above all, how you feel. So many people get wrapped up into the stereotypical “I’ve got to blackout or this night was a waste” or “If you don’t go to Mags you’re irrelevant” experiences that they forget about the piece of themselves that might not actually want to do that.

Like I said before, there’s no wrong way to go about this, but you’ll find as you progress into your academic career that the more ingenuine you are, and the more you get tethered to your past, the more stuck you feel. Stuck in relationships, stuck in friendships, and stuck in communities that either don’t make you happy because they don’t address what you’re really into or don’t make you happy because they leave no room for anything else.  

When we blind ourselves to the opportunities available at this university, it’s so easy to think that it’s the worst place in the country. As for me, having friends party every night at SEC schools, I have experienced the FOMO that comes when we have AJR perform for our homecoming and they have huge, relevant names like 21 Savage, Jason Aldean, Migos (lol), or B.o.B... It’s easy to get jealous and think about what a more fun time I might have there, but that’s just because it’s easy to lose sight of what I really wanted, and still want.

You make the choice to attend a college based on a lot of things, whether it be money, location, people, academics, or atmosphere. No one, at least I hope, forced you to apply, let alone attend, anywhere. There was a raw, honest part of you that considered your options and when you submitted your deposit, you let it roam free.

Now it’s time to do that again. It doesn’t matter if it’s fear, insecurity, or vulnerability making you feel unlike yourself, but it’s time to let your honest self be the maker of your own destiny. You wanted to come here, or anywhere you may be reading this, and confining yourself to predetermined expectations of what you should study, wear, or even think, is going to ruin the purity of your experience.

You came to college for a myriad of reasons: to learn, to explore, to challenge yourself. It’s left only to you, though, to speak your truth and be here to be yourself. You’ll get the most out of it that way.