You can find yourself in a yoga class (or whatever workout floats your boat), feeling strong and willing to try a new pose. You accept that you could totally fall on your face in front of strangers, and it is what it is. For the first time in a long time, you find yourself loving exercise because you're proud of what your body can do versus focusing on sizes, pounds, and any other number people wrongly believe defines their bodies.
You can find yourself in a math research institute. I know, math... it's social suicide. You never thought you would enjoy staring at a chalkboard, filled with a mess of out-of-order ideas, stuck but determined to make a coherent proof out of it all. You never thought you could spend six weeks of your summer working on a single math problem, but as it turns out, you would spend even further time on it if you could. You entered college so unsure of what you wanted to study or do with your life. But, here's your path. It's not what you expected at all, but you love it and can't imagine studying something else.
And, you can find yourself in a homeless shelter in New York or a Teach for America classroom in Las Vegas. Here you are, listening to people's stories of how they ended up in their current situation or why they want to help the less fortunate, and even though you know that the chances of you seeing them again are slim to none, you can't help but feel attached to them. You would be surprised how much you have in common with people you assume would be so drastically different from you, but after all, we're all human. And, after a week of having your heart so full of joy and an increasing desire to see your similarities with people instead of differences, you find yourself with a new purpose, something engrained in you that you couldn't let go of even if you wanted to.
Even though these things -- yoga, math, and Alternative Breaks programs -- are specific to me, these are just three examples of how college helps you find yourself. TV shows, movies, and books will tell you that college is the best four years of your life. And, so far in my college experience, I would agree. It's not just that college is fun, which is often how pop culture depicts it. College most definitely can have its young and care-free moments, but it's also that there are so many new places to explore, new people to meet, and new hobbies to try out. As I am approaching my senior year, I can whole-heartedly say that I'm endlessly excited for senior year and all it holds, despite that fear of graduating and being an actual real person.
So, for those of you just entering college, take this experience for all its worth. Be joyful for those "This is how I could spend the rest of my life" moments when you find yourself a new hobby or passion. And, equally as important, be grateful for those "I don't think this is right for me" moments because realizing what's wrong for you is as needed as realizing what's right. For those of you already in college, you've already probably had a few "finding yourself" moments. Be ready for more. I know I am.