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    Author :  Date : 2009-5-11 8:42:00


    BEN HE (何佳明), CLASS 08BE2


    Since birth we have been following along a path that our parents carved out for us, not really knowing why we are here or who we are. By high school, we have been ‘stapled’ into the social spectrum; our status has been determined and hard to change; our friends have us down pat, and we as individuals have very little room to grow. Boom! High school ends and college begins. As our high school peers are no longer there to reinforce our previous social status and identity, a sense of security is ultimately lost. No one knows who we are in college. No one knows anything about us. It’s almost as if we are completely starting over, which to some, can seem exhausting while to others may feel exhilarating. While we break loose from our “safety box” at home, we finally get to write the chapters in our own book, so to speak.

    College gives us the opportunity to completely turn around and look at things from a different point of view. The “Popularity” game in high school is irrelevant in college. One of my own roommates confessed to me that she wasn’t popular in high school. However, a girl who was popular and now lives on the same floor told me. One weekend, some “popular” friends came up to visit her. My roommate stopped by to say “Hi”. A few minutes later she decided to have a drink with them. And then my roommate returned with a “popular” college guy, and they started talking and joking around. That was about it, no big deal, but this was something that wouldn’t have happened in high school. In college, high school rules no longer apply - unless you allow them to. College sets precious few guidelines; we are on our own so to speak. We are reinvented. Forget our previous labels. It’s all utter rubbish! Get over it. You are now who you want to be.

    Although this personal reinvention is an important part of college, the establishing of our new identity still remains to be achieved, and in addition, our eagerness to fit in is still very present. We still want the security and guidelines we had in high school, but in a different way.

    College is like an important audition. You walk onto the campus and discover that no one has a clue about you. It feels quite liberating, but a little scary too. Your parents are no longer at your service, and independence is the name of the game. We are faced with and forced to take responsibility for the choices we make, and take charge of our own destinies.

    This transformation of someone’s identity and personality through the experience of college doesn’t just happen right away. Being a student in college doesn’t automatically guarantee that you will change and move away from the social cliques you were part of in high school that might have left you feeling trapped. In the beginning, I was still thinking like a high school student, trying to fit in, and finding friends that would be compatible with me. One night at dinner, I was eating with three girls from my floor. Then something hit me. I finally noticed that none of them cared about whether I was there or not. No one was even trying to include me in the conversation, or listening to what I had to say. I had slowly become immune to this type of social behavior, I guess. But, out of habit, I found myself trying to be their friend. I was never really that popular in high school, but of course, I wanted to fit in. I felt rejected and miserable inside. It was a painful repeat of high school, and I felt that old, familiar fear of pretending to be someone I simply was not. I thought to myself, “why?” Why do I care so much about what people think of me? If I acted as myself, wouldn’t life be so much easier? Later that evening I was reading Chicken Soup For The College Soul and came across a quote which read, “Great minds discuss ideas…average minds discuss events…shallow minds discuss people…which are you?” I was encouraged and inspired, and decided to trust myself and move on.

    Achieving greater depths of understanding our selves during the exciting experience of attending college partly relies on our own level of maturity and on our developing people skills. It is a give-and-take social interaction between equals, and so we must allow other individuals the freedom from being judged in order to better ourselves. When we give others room to realize their own beauty and ability to change, we in turn allow ourselves to do the same.

    I can’t tell you that everything would be better in college. I can’t guarantee that college wouldn’t be a repeat of high school. Like I said, YOU write the chapters in your own adventure of life. College will educate you. And college will give you the chance to reinvent yourself. But it’s what you make of it that counts. 

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