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Creating Yourself in College

By Brianna Altman

Portrait by: Schaun Champion

As a first-generation college student, I never thought I’d be here. My parents had never obtained a degree, and with the field I want to pursue — filmmaking — attending college was out of the question. Why would I waste thousands on a degree in pursuit of a dream so unconventional — a path so unstructured?

While I had originally scoffed at the idea of obtaining a degree, I felt a murmur, a calling within me. I was constantly told that “college is where you find yourself,” and that I’d be missing out on this intense period of personal growth and reflection.

While I don’t think my teachers, parents, and practically every other adult in my life were outright wrong, I do think they were misled. College isn’t about finding yourself, but actively molding who you want to be.

Through all-nighters, strict deadlines, hangovers, friendship dramas, and more, it is in these situations where we must intentionally choose the kind of person we are, and what we value. This is by no means a passive process, nor one of “discovery.” We are not delivered into this world with fully-fledged ideas, likes, dislikes, and modes of behavior. Instead, we adapt to the situations we experience over time.

I am not the same person who I was two short years ago. I have molded myself over this time — a very active and intentional process. Each step of the way, I chose the person I want to be. Do I hold the door for this person? Should I let it slam in their face? While every action does not define a person, I do believe it helps paint a picture of the larger whole.

Anyways, who do you want to be?

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