Who am I? Have you ever asked yourself this question?
When I talk to college students or chat with friends, the “who am I” question is one of the most common themes weaved throughout ongoing conversations. In a stage of life where people are trying to figure out “what should I do,” “what should I study,” “what am I good at,” it all points to the question identity. Who am I?
Can you relate? Fill in your own details, but the story is common. You show up to college as Jane Brown of Small Town, USA, where everyone in the county knows your name and what you’re about. While you were the best of the best at home, college is filled with many who are just as good or better. The classes you couldn’t wait to take are much harder than expected and you’re not sure you even like them. Nothing is what you thought it would be. You aren’t who you thought you’d be. And that’s when the big question surfaces…”who am I?”
If this is you, let me just start by saying “Congratulations—you’ve arrived!” I know it sounds scary, but let me welcome you to world of opportunities and options, questions and discovery, experience and growth. It is exciting! Asking the question, “who am I,” means you’re seeking to find the answer and that is a great place to be. You are not lost. Here are some pointers of where to begin.
1. 1. Start with what is true. Let me encourage you with a little help from CSP’s theme of the year. We are God’s People. You are God’s creation and He calls you His child. When you are uncertain of who you are, start there. You are loved by God in Christ and that won’t change.
2. 2. Learn about you. Take some time to get to know yourself. What do you enjoy doing? What brings you joy? What are the activities or who are the people who bring you to life or refresh you? What are the things or who are the people who drain you? How much sleep do you need? How many commitments can you handle? How do you know when you’re stressed and how do you cope? What are you tendencies in communicating or in relationships? How do you react to certain people or situations? It’s good to be self-aware and difficult to grow or improve without knowing where you are.
3. 3. Try new things! Young adulthood is filled with tons of opportunities to take a leap outside of your comfort zone and explore something new! Take an elective that you’ve been curious about. Go on a service trip. Try a new ethnic restaurant. Go to a campus event by yourself with the intention of meeting new people. Sit at a different dining hall table than normal. Pick up a random hobby like harmonica or geocaching. Find a place to volunteer in the Cities. Who knows what you might have a knack for or take an interest in? Who knows what sort of adventure you may have, who you may meet, or what you might learn about yourself along the way?
4. 4. Be in relationship. That’s pretty self-explanatory. Dating or otherwise, this is a huge part of life learning. Don’t go through life alone—you weren’t made that way.
5. 5. Do some reflecting. You are in a time of significant learning about the world, others, and yourself. There are a lot of valuable lessons going by! Make time to do some reflecting. Reflect on who you’ve been and where you’ve come from. It’s in reflecting that we are able to learn and make use of our experiences. When we reflect, our experiences become our teachers and we are changed.
6. 6. Get some help. As you go through this time of self-discovery and world discovery, you may run into some road blocks. Past wounds or issues may surface. You may not know what to do with what you’ve learned or you’ve learned something about yourself that you don’t like and can’t change. Counseling is never a bad idea and it’s free for college students. Use it! Seek out a mentor—someone who can walk alongside you and encourage you as you grow. When figuring out more about yourself, it’s good to have guidance and grounding from others.
7. 7. Relax. You don’t have to figure out everything about you and you won’t. You won’t have your whole future planned or know every step of your life. The more I’ve engaged in some of these six things above, the more I’ve realized something. Just as much as I am Shelly, I am becoming Shelly. Life is a process and process is beautiful. It is growth. Paul said himself, that he hadn’t achieved the goal, but presses on toward it. Romans 12 urges us to “be transformed by the renewing of [our minds].” We are free in Christ as God’s children right now and we continue to be more free in who we are all of the time. This is an amazing time of developing yourself both inside the classroom and out. Don’t miss out!
I hope that throughout your life, you keep asking “who am I,” digging into what your career should be, or what gives you have. In addition to finding your identity in Christ, I challenge you to keep asking yourself, “who am I becoming?” Ask God for help and guidance. What past steps you can celebrate and what are the things you can continue to work at? Challenge yourself. Expect to grow. Make plans to be different. Who are you becoming?