College is a time for finding out who you are

Photo collage of Hankins, Mack, and Nwokoye.
Photo Courtesy: Instagram

College is among the many unique experiences of young adulthood where individuals
lose, meet and rebrand themselves for the first time.

Being placed in a new environment that is filled with individuals of various backgrounds,
a playground of opportunities and mini-communities that allow you the freedom to be
anything and anyone you want, can be a very overwhelming concept to grasp and an
even more complex reality to live.

Bakari Hankins, a third-year music industry major, said losing sight of his boundaries
reshaped his identity during college.

“I am a very gravitational person who always gravitates towards what I think is good
energy,” Hankins said. “I feel like I ended up losing myself because I lacked protection
and boundaries.”

“I was allowing everything,” Hankins added. “I was always out partying and just lost
sight of what I initially came here for.”

It wasn’t until he distanced himself from friends and going out that Hankins began to
meet and discover new parts of his most authentic self.

“I had to distance myself from a lot of things truthfully,” Hankins said. “I got comfort from
being at home, and it just became routine. I also discovered that I had an interest in
botany while being around the house,” Hankins added. “Just being away from certain
things gave me a complete recalibration.”

Hankins believes that college plays a significant role in shaping many students’

“We are all out here winging it and experiencing life on our own which can be a number
of things, toxic or comforting,” Hankins said. “College is a big setting to come into
adulthood for young people which I definitely think plays a big role in becoming who you

Some students come into college with a general understanding of who they are, but
lose sight of that for a plethora of reasons.
Athaiya Mack, a second-year broadcast journalism major, says she was secure in
herself coming into undergrad, but comparisons were the downfall of her identity.

“I definitely had a great understanding of who I was, but when I got to college it felt like
everyone was so much better at it than me,” Mack said. “Comparison was the biggest
factor that made me lose sight of who I was.”

Mack believes that reminding herself of her motives behind what she chooses to take
part in has aided in helping her discover what is for her.

“I’ve learned that everyone has their own reason for doing their own thing,” Mack said.

“In terms of finding myself, I’m realizing that what I am doing is for me. The things I am
going out for are because I am passionate about them and they speak to me,” Mack
added. “So although I am still finding myself, I am figuring out what works for me, what I
enjoy and what I don’t.”

A university can be the perfect setup for one to meet themselves for the first time.
For third-year general health science major Crystal Nwokoye, security in her identity
wasn’t something she had mastered before coming to FAMU.

“I dealt with a lot of micro-aggressions in high school that made me feel like I wasn’t
desirable, or someone anyone wanted to know,” Nwokoye said. “I knew who I was
internally, but I didn’t know how to express that outwardly.”

While in college, the weight of academics, relationships and overall life caused
Nwokoye to feel a sense of loss in selfhood.

“Since my first semester of college, I’ve taken at least 16 credit hours a semester, and
have taken summer classes,” Nwokoye said. “It has always been a cycle of trying to be
everywhere at once with very few breaks. I was also in a relationship my first two years,
which was a lot within itself, so with all I had going on it turned into me not spending
time with myself or doing things that connected me to peace.”

It required hitting a rock bottom that allowed Nwokoye to find herself in college.

“It took me going from having something to no one and nothing that forced me to see
the bare necessities that make me who I am,” Nwokoye said. “Learning those things
has helped me gradually get back to the things that make me myself, one of them being
my relationship with God.”

The college experience has most helped in allowing Nwokoye to take charge of her

“Coming to college has helped me tremendously when it came to doing things because
Crystal wants to do them,” Nwokoye said. “I have learned to take ownership of my life.”

Attending a university opens individuals up to a pool filled with endless introductions to
many different lifestyles, relationships and experiences that one has complete freedom
to step into and away from at any given point they desire. Whether you come into a
university with a great understanding of who you are, or not a clue in the world, the
undergraduate experience has a unique way of shaping the individuality of each