The summer before your first year of college is so full of hope and promise that it feels a bit like an election cycle.
You can finally bid farewell to people you didn’t like in high school and begin a fresh chapter of your life in a brand new environment. You’ve heard about how great college is and you’re ready to dive in.
But there’s probably something else on your mind right now, too: how you want to come off to a fresh group of people. This is your chance to be whoever you want among a group of people who know nothing about you.
You can reinvent yourself. And that’s a tremendous power you now have.
They never saw you in that school lunch video where you had to wear a hairnet and advertise the salad bar, and they never saw you rap on the high school quad at lunchtime because you lost a bet. This column might or might not bear resemblance to yours truly’s life.
I scoured the Internet for tips on how to best “rebrand” yourself or “turn over a new leaf” when you come to college, and most of the advice was…odd. One website instructed that if you are really committed to starting fresh, you should change your name.
I promise I won’t ask you to do that.
But the sentiment was universal: with college, with GW and with D.C. you have an incredible opportunity to be truer to yourself than you ever have been. All of a sudden, your strange hobbies don’t need to be things you do on the side. In fact, you’ll probably find a group of others right here who love it just as much as you do. If you thought high school was too homogenous, dare to be different now.
I can’t tell you how to do that. But I can tell you that you have an obligation to yourself to make sure that the person you shape yourself into in college is someone you’re proud of and comfortable with. If your town was too small, be big here. If your high school was tough on people who spoke up, shout here.
GW has a population of more than 10,000 students. If you find yourself judged, shunned or miffed, don’t edit yourself to fit in. Find new friends.
And as you start packing up for school, choose carefully what you want to take and what to leave behind. Your favorite stuffed animal you’ve had since you were born? Toss it in a suitcase. That framed photo of the ex-boyfriend you can’t seem to throw away? You don’t have space for that.
And once you get here, be a force to reckon with. There are no limits to what you can accomplish and no boundaries but the ones you draw.
The best four years of your life are upon you. Don’t let anyone hold you back from flying by the seat of your pants.
Annu Subramanian, a senior majoring in journalism, is The Hatchet’s managing director and former opinions editor.