Art by Peau Porotesano
You’re not just a student. You’re not just an athlete. You’re not just a son or daughter to your parents, or even to God. Yes, everyone has a core self, a central person deep down, but the rest, the real evolutionary you, is everything else.
As a student veteran, I struggled with the acceptance of my own identity much more in the past year than ever before. I would struggle to the point of making myself feel guilty for getting excited about font styles or being proud of a well-written poem. I would sit and wonder, what might my brothers in arms, past and present, think of Alec the poet? What do I think of Alec the poet?
Recently I decided to express those concerns to someone, and they told me that being a well-rounded person and tapping into the many sides of your personality is actually something to be proud of. Solid advice for sure. And I feel that the best way for me to truly embrace this ideology is to tell others to do the same.
So I encourage you to fully embrace a variety of interests and passions. Don’t limit yourself with labels and a false sense of identity. It’s OK not to be the same person you were last year, or last semester or yesterday. You have no obligation to stay that person.
To facilitate this growth, try and take away something from every experience. Whether it be the military, Greek life, athletics or your faith, if you leave, leave with something of value. It can be hard to realize that you are part of something bigger than yourself. And if you end up on the outside looking in, I hope you feel different than you did before.
That is why we are all at this school. To feel different than we did when we got here. To have learned things and forgot others. To have made lots of friends and hopefully to have lost few. To have grown and changed and discovered new things about ourselves.
Before, during and after my time in the military, I have known, wholeheartedly, things about myself that just aren’t true anymore. And that’s fine, because I have discovered abilities, emotions and interests that I would have never tapped into had I not embraced the many facets of myself.
Follow Alec McPike on Twitter: @AlecMcPike