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Creating Yourself Is More Important than Finding Yourself

by Héctor Gutiérrez


We all go to college searching for something far beyond education. And maybe we're still young enough to believe that we'll find it.

Whether it is your aunt who majored in Psych or a family friend you met once at a Fourth of July barbecue, the words are always the same:

"You'll find yourself in college."

What a lie.

I spent the first three years of college attempting to find myself. While at times I thought I did, submerged in the dirty basement of a house at midnight or in the library, crammed with papers to write and endless books, it never happened.

Inevitably, life catches on to you and soon those four years end, leaving a trace of failed attempts at discovering–through pure magic–who you are. The pursuit leaves you empty, and because the 'finding yourself' culture is cultivated in American youth for so long, we all feel like outsiders.

When finding yourself doesn't happen, what are we left with?

Senior year came and went, swept by worries of the future and plans that I never really crafted myself. Around me, seniors surrounded themselves with two mindsets; one which jumps at the chance to claim, "I've found myself!" and the other, more common now than in any other generation, is impulsive in proving the world how much of a mess they are.

I was neither.

Along the years of switching majors and submerging myself in more dirty basements and books, I came to the conclusion that college and life were about doing things we love. Modern love, though, means something different than when our parents were in school. Doing things with love has become synonymous to experiencing a mixture of emotions, good and bad, that remind us that what we're doing with our lives is worth it.

So, instead of drowning my worries and fears about the future in the local bar, I decided to craft a better advice for my freshman self:

"In college and in life, creating yourself is more important than finding yourself."

You create yourself through experiences, both in dirty basements and hitting the books. It happens when we surround ourselves with lots of different people, but also by listening to our own voice. It's pulling an all-nighter with your friends to study for a test you eventually fail, and then letting go of the feeling of failure because there will other tests, other all-nighters, other friends. It is different for everybody because when we leave this place, we're all going to be different people; different from others, but also of who we used to be.

Creating yourself is inhaling all the experiences available to you, taking in the incredible and tragic things in life, and then exhaling the person you used to be to make space for a new one.

So create yourself, over and over again, until you no longer feel the need to define who you are, and instead, you be it.


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