Losing Yourself

Photography by Samantha Campbell

When you first start university, the concept of “danger” comes up quite often. You should practice safe sex and safe partying because your actions can be a danger to yourself. You should call Foot Patrol when you walk home alone at night because there are people out there who are dangerous. You should take school seriously because there is a danger that you might fail out of your program. You should get involved because there is the danger that you will regret missing out on a lot of opportunities.

These are all indeed real and potentially serious dangers. They are the type of dangers that have tangible consequences. You will feel very sick in the morning if you party irresponsibly. You will likely be kicked out of university if you fail out of your program. You might cry yourself to sleep at night when you graduate, kicking yourself for never making an effort to get more involved with the campus you must now vacate.

It is much harder to warn someone about the danger of losing yourself, because I think most of us don’t even realize it happens.

University can be very overwhelming. You come into your dorm room or apartment or whatever you want to call your new “home” (even though it seems you just had a home for 18 years), and very few things are familiar. You moved into your new bedroom as the guy or girl who had their hometown friends on speed dial, pictures from prom on their dressers and funny stories from when you were in high school. When you move out in a year, you will have new friends, new pictures, new stories, new experiences, new life lessons and a new outlook on life.

Does that mean there is a “new” you?

In university, we often find ourselves pushed to identify with different groups throughout campus as a way to adjust to school life. You begin to identify with your orientation week team (I personally was a Gold Genie). You identify with your residence (or you have LOCUS love). You learn to identify with any extra-curricular activities you take on; soon, everyone in the hallways seems to have some sort of club-themed t-shirt or House Council hoodie. You start your classes, and you suddenly become a Sociology major or a ‘biz kid’ or whatever it is you choose to take on academically.

When you begin to approach the end of the year and are seeking a part-time job or an internship placement for the summer, it hits you. You look at your cover letter, and you’re a “first year English major who has developed their leadership skills as the representative for their house council at XYZ residence” or you’re a “passionate business student, who is ideal for sales and has placed first in a stock pitch competition” or you’re any number of one-liners that seem to sum what you have been doing recently (well, things you’d actually tell your employer).

You will probably be moving back home in May, and you begin to come to terms with the fact that you may not see your roommate everyday anymore. Also, doesn’t it feel awfully strange that you don’t have a group meeting at the concourse that week? You used to go to the Turret every Friday but your hometown friends have no clue what you’re talking about.

Sometimes it’s good to take a breath in the whirlwind that is school life and come to terms with everything that’s going on. First of all, don’t get so caught up in everything you do that you forget to remember why you bother doing it – maybe you got too comfortable being a Music major that you didn’t even realize you couldn’t see yourself doing it in the long-run.