When you go off to college there is this belief that you will find yourself. It is true that you grow and mature while away at college. However, finding yourself may not come as easily. In my case, college actually made it difficult to find my identity. This was because of the many competing influences on campus. I lost myself during my first 2 years of college, but by grace I found myself. In this post, I will share my journey to finding my identity in college to in hopes to help you do the same.
I have previously shared with you all about my transition from high school to college. In high school, I focused all my energy into school and did not have many opportunities outside of school to develop my identity among peers. I also grew up in a critical environment so this voice was the voice that lingered in my head, always analyzing what I said, how I said it, how others took it…etc. This trickled into my social life and I was always very self-conscious and anxious around others. I assumed that college would change these things. I would finally have a normal social life with my peers. My worries would melt away and I would be able to be my true self. Man was I wrong.
Finding My Identity in People
I found out the hard way that if I didn’t know who I was that the world would tell me who I was. Once in college, I realized that my critical socially anxious mind had followed me. To compensate for this I found myself trying to fit in and measure up to those around me. I wanted to be as engaged on campus as Becca. a social butterfly like Tiffany, and as dateable Trisha. I need to ditch my critical brain and be carefree and social. My major and desire to succeed in school all revolved around living up to what I believed was expected of me. To top it all off I didn’t understand the emotional turmoil within me, so I avoided it.
Within me was a constant struggle for approval. I would simply add to my identify a little piece of everything I thought I needed to gain approval, be accepted and be loved. This created an impossible self-inflicted standard to measure up to. It took losing my self and hitting rock bottom for me to truly start finding who Brittani was, what she wanted and what she liked. This journey truly began once I took time off from school and began going to therapy every other week. In therapy, I began to verbalize my experiences and uncover what was important to me. I also began to realize that I was self-imposing an impossible identity. Once I moved back to my college town many of my close friends were no longer there. This really forced me to be intentional about forming new relationships. I also continued to go to therapy and shortly after joined a support group.
Finding My True Identity
As I began to look within for my identity I realized a consistent theme of the importance of my faith. I had a natural desire to pursue Jesus more deeply and have a church home. So when I got invited to on-campus ministries like CRU and SOMA I was excited to get involved. I also started attending a local church and going to the weekly small groups. Getting involved allowed me to not only grow in my faith but also connect with others on a deeper level. At this time I also started to reevaluate what was fun for me. The party life was ok, but that wasn’t for me. I realized that environments that allowed me to truly connect with others is what I enjoyed. Making memories over dinner with friends, game nights and nature walks were what I truly enjoyed.
Have You Found Your True Identity?
Finding my identity through my faith has allowed me to find true joy and be thankful. Everyone’s experience is different, but I truly believe there is hope for every unique situation. For me, it all began with therapy and a desire for happiness. If you are debating counseling I hope this will inspire you to move from contemplation to action. As always, if you suffer from severe mental illness or thoughts of suicide I want to encourage you to seek help today. Find a local therapist or contact the National Suicide Lifeline by calling 1-800-273-8255 or texting “START” to 741-741.