Art by Sacha Irick
At a small university it is easy to get caught up in the university norms and to be influenced by stereotypes. Sometimes we allow the opinions of our peers prevent us from taking the first step on the road to discovering our identities.
The beginning of the year is filled with opportunities. Whether you’re going Greek, going rogue or going abroad, you’re most likely devoting yourself to at least one group. And then proceeding to do everything with that one group. But know this: Branching out to other social circles won’t kill you. Now is the time to break out of cliques, knock down stereotypical beliefs and create a new you.
Shed the fear of rejection. Forget the expectations of your classmates. This is your opportunity to recreate the road ahead of you in the journey of your college experience.
Remember, Pepperdine is a place where we should feel comfortable enough to explore ourselves without the fear of becoming trapped behind one particular organization’s walls.
Since there is no one formula for the college experience, we’ve come up with some times to help you keep an open mind in your experiences and the experiences of those around you:
You know nothing – People hate feeling uncomfortable, so we tend to generalize or buy into stereotypes of other groups, organizations or clubs. Students often feel socially uncomfortable in settings where they can’t exactly understand who a person is immediately — that’s normal.
But Pepperdine isn’t about the normal. You won’t make a difference being normal. You can’t learn anything new or outside of your comfort zone if you’re being normal. Remember prejudices are just the accumulation of ideas people create to make it easier to be around those they don’t feel familiar with.
Join a club, spend time getting to know a fraternity you might’ve prejudged, consider a summer abroad experience, see a campus play you’ve never heard of, take a class outside of your major that interests you. Just because you’re associated with one thing doesn’t mean that it has to be your only source for friends. If you’re part of an athletic team, get to know a fraternity or sorority. If you’re part of Greek life, get to know a club on campus. If you’re not affiliated with anything, get to know someone who is. Branch out. Join Pepperdine Graphic Media!
Life has more than one road – There are different avenues for everyone. Some love filling every minute of their day. Others would rather have more personal down time for long naps. Some prefer to focus solely on their classes. Others find more joy in their extracurricular activities. Some already have their major picked out from day one of freshman year. Others change their major 40 times before their senior year.
Travel where you want – There’s an opportunity students have during their time at Pepperdine to not only visit, but also live in places they couldn’t normally live in. Many students take advantage of their sophomore year to go abroad, but few realize that this isn’t the only year you can go abroad. If your major didn’t allow for you to go abroad, try a summer program. Not about that summer program life? Make your sophomore year your own version of abroad by exploring the various nooks and crannies California has to offer. You can travel to neighboring states, attend a network show taping, see a professional sports game or find a beautiful campsite to spend your weekend. You can make a bucket list of your own for your “year abroad in Malibu.”
You don’t live in a world of extremes – Your participation is not a two-sided coin — it’s what you want it to be. Play with your schedule. Try a busy 18-unit semester and try a laid-back 12-unit semester. Try balancing a million extracurriculars and try committing all your time to one. See what makes you feel most comfortable.
Wander around a little bit – Don’t know what exactly you want to do? It’s OK, not many of us know either. Some students have known what they want to do since they were three years old; others don’t figure it out until years after they’ve graduated. But if you let yourself be bound by the pressures of doing what everyone else is doing or what people want you to do, you’ll never find out what you really like doing. Practice saying no. If you feel over committed, don’t be afraid to turn something down. It may feel awful at first, but it is better than not giving your best efforts.
Don’t find yourself sitting there after graduation wondering about what could have been. Don’t wonder if Greek life was for you, if you should’ve seen that one play, or if you should have declared a different major. Instead, be proactive. Pepperdine is a university that offers a wide variety of opportunities to go out and explore. Go try a service opportunity, take the time to talk to someone outside of your circle of friends, and become the person that you want to be.
Don’t get stuck on a one-way street when there are so many avenues to explore. Don’t judge others on the road that they should take. Ultimately, we will all end up at different destinations that define who we are. College is the time to go out and create an identity for yourself. Whether this entails investing yourself in your one true passion or branching out, be who you want to be, and just do you.
Follow the Graphic on Twitter: @PeppGraphic