Identity is a Process

By Nicole Millan, Fellow Class of 2017
University of Denver

Living in such a fast paced society, we often forget to reflect. Consumed by all the deadlines and assignments, we discard the moments that are currently present to us and tend to live more in the future than the present. My senior year of high school resembled this imbalance. I can distinctly remember the anxiety I felt when I submitted my college application to the University of Denver. The countless hours spent editing and perfecting my personal statement was sent to be judged by board members who knew nothing about me. For months, it felt like I was writing essays and emails in sentences and structures that did not resemble me. What is often untold about the college application process is the confusion in self identity. Senior year proved difficult for me because I was expected to explain to others who I am, when I could not even explain it to myself. 

 I recognize that I over emphasized aspects of my life to create an image of uniqueness. Most of my time was spent building upon who I thought would appeal most to others instead of building upon who I actually was. Although it can be argued that this unidentifiable image of myself worked in my favor, as I was accepted into the University of Denver with a full ride, I felt lost in my surroundings. I had isolated myself further with each over exaggeration. 

The passage of self identity has not been an easy one. I have had to disentangle the lies that I convinced myself were true. If I could redo my senior year in high school, I would not change my path, but rather my perspective. Identity formation is a topic that is not widely talked about, but is perhaps the most important. Senior year is a critical point in life where we transition from one stage of development to the next. I wish I had known that it is okay not to know who I am. It is also acceptable to unapologetically be who I am, without trying to impress a board of directors that can not place a value on me. I have learned to form my identity as I go. With the help of programs like Law School Yes We Can, I have found communities that allow me to explore countless opportunities for growth and knowledge.