Freshman year of college overflows with newness. Oftentimes, you no longer live at home. Maybe you began to commute to school. You’re greeted by a million new faces. People have hobbies you’ve never heard of. You’re suddenly feeling really inspired to buy cowgirl boots. Everywhere you go, things seem to say “This is who I am. Who are you?” If you’re anything like me, this feeling makes you realize that right now you don’t really know the answer to that question. If you’re a lot like me this sets off a season of soul-searching.
You decide to buy a few new pieces of clothing, probably things you’re not 100% comfortable wearing (but are brave enough to wear anyway). You’ll try to slyly see what other girls are doing with their makeup, and promptly realize you really don’t know how to contour.
Where I went wrong is how I approached this season of trying new things. I got frustrated with myself when my new leggings didn’t fit me the way I wanted them to. I chastised myself for not learning how to use liquid foundation sooner. What I really needed in those moments (besides better leggings and a Beauty Blender) was to allow myself to shift in any which way that felt right. I would’ve been better off deciding that I didn’t need to be anyone other than who I woke up as that morning.
My junior year of college, circumstances led me to transfer to a new school. Motivated by a fresh start, I finally extended myself some kindness. From then on I wasn’t an alt girl, or an indie or artsy or yoga girl. I was a girl in motion— ever-changing, and undefined. For the first time in college I let myself exist outside of the categories I’d blindly sorted people into.
“I was a girl in motion— ever-changing, and undefined”
I’m not saying it’s easy to do. Sometimes you’re staring at a 5-year-old fluffy jacket that you just can’t seem to give away because in that jacket lives a different version of yourself that you really, really miss. You’ll outgrow clothes and shoes and friends. You’ll grieve the old while you welcome the new. Change means heartache, and heartache hurts.
The truth is: nobody in college really knows (with 100% certainty) exactly who they are. If you look around, you’ll notice that most people are just trying things out. The beauty of that is that we get to witness everyone, friends and strangers, be whatever version of themselves they woke up as that morning.
You do not have to piece yourself together with the coolest, most expensive clothes, and the most likable, inoffensive personality. You don’t have to be the Mom Friend, or the Party Animal, or the Therapist because other people expect you to fulfill these roles in your life. And you do not have to stay the same person if what you used to love has started to hurt you. You do, however, owe it to yourself to live a life that you love, and move in a direction that sets your soul on fire.