It’s that time again. Tomorrow, after I do this awful statistics exam (which is more like an essay test because my professor doesn’t really do numbers but that’s another story), I head home. I’m so excited, I can’t even tell you! Heading home is the best feeling in the world. I love Philly and all of the benefits of living in the city but at the end of the day I always miss the open spaces of Wyoming.
I remember the first time I came home freshman year. It was a strange feeling, like being a puzzle piece that no longer fits quite right. I loved being home, but I could tell that things were different. I was different. I’d had new experiences and done all sorts of things and coming home was still like being wrapped in a big hug, I noticed that home “me” and school “me” weren’t exactly the same thing anymore.
This sense of some sort of internal split became greater throughout freshman year, as I began to see myself change and grow in exciting ways. I developed new interests, met new people, and learned how to sleep in on Sunday mornings like a normal teenager instead of getting up weirdly early.
People always romanticize “finding yourself,” as if it’s this thing you choose to do when you go on a solo backpacking trip across Europe and come back a whole different person who is wise and worldly. I was suddenly in the middle of it, sans the backpacking. I didn’t feel the romance, just a lot of confusion. Being in college meant making most decisions myself. How was I supposed to do that?
Going home freshman summer was even more confusing. I felt like I didn’t match the “me” of home but I didn’t feel like I’d quite assimilated to Penn yet. I felt like I was hanging in the balance between two different Taylors who hadn’t yet been introduced to one another.
Now that I’m at the end of sophomore year, I think I’m finally starting to see it all come together. Have I found myself yet? No way. It’s still one big game of hide and go seek, but I’ve got some clues. I feel like these last two years have been full of growth, and I’ve began to reconcile the two halves of myself that I believed existed.
My new favorite word has become “authenticity.” Whenever I feel like I’m being pulled in one direction or another, I try to step back and consider if it seems “authentic.” Does it seem like something I want to do? Is it in line with other decisions I’ve made? It’s not a perfect system, but it gives me some way of deciding on who Taylor is until I figure it out (spoiler alert: she probably really likes food, or at least she better).
As I head home for sophomore summer, I’m excited to head home more Taylor than ever. The “real me” is probably not hiding under a ginormous stack of pancakes that Dad will inevitably make me for breakfast, but I’ll look anyways.
Here are some of my favorite quotes about authenticity:
When is a time in your life where you felt like you were two different people? Did you find yourself? How did you do it?