This summer has been an enormous time of growth for me compared even to the academic year here, which was an enormous time of growth for me compared to my time at home. And I’ve been trying to put my finger on why.
I think a large part of it is isolation in interests. Such fragmented interests abound here that I truly can be my own, absorbing what interests me in my peers but also crafting my own person. And there is no overwhelming culture for me to be pressured to meld into, as I always have before.
And since I have no background here, I’ve been able to break out of the rut of being the butt of the joke in a social circle. I’m respected. Things that are odd that I endorse are not laughed at, but looked at as a possibility. I have influence, small as it may be, and that’s huge for me.
So yes to strange music (disconnect from a source for radio and popular music does wonder on my musical tastes). Yes to odd clothes (having a boyfriend who doesn’t care and people who don’t care are amazing for confidence in my appearance and affinity for counterculture garb). Yes to odd humor. Yes to widely ranging books.
People always talk about ‘finding themselves’, and I don’t think I ever even really understood what that meant. You don’t know who you are? Why not? I don’t think I was a complex enough person in high school, with no experiences until my belt, no worldview beyond my beach town suburbia. I’m beginning more and more to understand cliché sayings like ‘find yourself’. Finding yourself can be just realizing your quirky interests. Finding yourself can be understanding how you differ from others. Finding yourself can be thinking about what you want in life, in the broadest sense possible – which was revolutionary for me, mostly because I didn’t see many different ways to live other than college, career, settle down, and have kids, all very straight arrow and mindless.