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Finding Your Authentic Self in College

Tips for using your time to find your voice & true vocation

In my last blog post, I shared six steps for success as a new college freshman. One of the important messages I’d like to discuss further, is how you can use your time in college to listen to your inner voice, and find your true vocation…to find your authentic self.

Diversify your schedule

Use your first two years of college to experience introductory courses that you find exciting or appealing. Use your high school subject matter as a starting point. If you liked a particular language, you might explore languages in college. If you liked math, science, or technology, you may find courses that are interesting in that subject.

There are so many varied job opportunities that can connect to the subject of your choice. For example, Steve Jobs dropped out of college but continued to monitor a calligraphy class. He later credited that calligraphy course with helping him design the letters and body of the Apple computer. Thus, he was one of the first people to think of beauty in the same category as technology, which set his product apart, and made it desirable.

Don’t discount required courses. Curriculum subjects required for graduation, regardless of your major, may actually inspire you by exposing you to something new that catches your fancy.

Check out campus bookstores and check out books that relate to the courses that you are interested in. See if you really like them, if this is the right subject matter for you.

Seek diversity in your teachers and expand your social circle

Remember: it is not just the courses you take but also the people you meet in college who can help you discover and define the real you.

Read up on your teachers. All schools have a biography of their respective professors; seek out courses taught by teachers with a wide range of backgrounds and interests. Many times a professor can change the course of your life by mentoring and encouraging you.

Get involved – you never know who can help you. Network through personal introductions, email, and social media such as LinkedIn, Facebook, and Instagram. Stay open to new relationships; you never know where a new contact can lead. However it is important while making new friends, to keep the old.

It can be all too easy to sink into our comfort zone and only move within our same social circles, but: no risk, no reward! Sometimes you have to leap without a net and take a chance on social connections. Just remember that what you put on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and other social media outlets can be viewed later on by an employer.

Finally, don’t be afraid to dare to be different, dare to be yourself. Only the outcast can lead! There is a disturbing pattern developing in our college culture which punishes dissenting opinions. This lack of tolerance can stunt college education and life lessons. False humility is immaturity, no one gravitates to weakness, but rather to strength and certainty. Don’t underestimate your capacity, you often project onto others, that which you have inside yourself.

If you put yourself out there, are open to new classes, instructors, extracurricular activities, and meeting new people, you can make the most of your time in college. And, in the end, this expansion of your experiences may help you find your true voice, your true vocation.

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