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Identity Crisis

First year student Aidan O'Neill talks about redefining himself in college in one of this week's entries in the Reaching Within blog. Aidan and two other students will be blogging for us regularly throughout the year.

 "Maybe self-improvement isn't the answer, maybe self-destruction is."

-Tyler Durden, ""Fight Club""

Throughout high school, I was lucky enough to be part of a very close youth group that met every Thursday night. After three years together, it was decided that the theme of our senior year meetings would be solidifying our identities. College was approaching, the chance to become a whole new person, for better or worse. The important thing, our group leaders told us, was to decide who we were going to be before we got there. 

I thought about this a lot that year. First I took a look at who I was already. Was I satisfied with the identity I had in high school? Mostly. I had compiled a decent amount of activities and accomplishments I was proud of, my reputation was about where I wanted it, and I had good friends. But I began examining what I should change, how I could tune my personality to hit that perfect note that truly and completely defined me.

Maybe it was the youth group meetings, or all the thinking I had been doing, or maybe it was watching the movie "Fight Club," but I realized I had been doing it all wrong. On Thursday nights we talked about living out God's values to become our own man of Christ. We weren't talking about changing our personality, the way I had been thinking of it. We were talking about being a part of something much bigger and more incredible than ourselves. We were talking about changing what motivated our actions, about changing our character. This never ending process - becoming who I wanted to be - wasn't about finding myself. In fact, just the opposite. This was about losing myself, about letting go and allowing God to define me.

Once that a-ha moment was out of the way, then came the real issue. It's one thing to want to let God take over who you become, but it's quite another thing to figure out what that means in daily life. College is a new and challenging environment. In these first couple weeks, so much is uncomfortable and new that I kept a tight grip on every bit of control I could. Being in a place where everyone can see my personality but no one knows my character is a challenging dilemma. I wish I could simply undo a button on my collar, show them the cross I wear hidden behind it. Maybe then they won't be shocked if I act differently. Or maybe that would make it easier to act differently in the first place.

But I know that's not how it works. Faith is not displayed through what I wear, what box I check in surveys, or even how I answer when people ask me about my beliefs. Faith is demonstrated through my choices. In the movie Batman Begins, Rachel tells Bruce Wayne that ""It's not who you are underneath, it's what you do that defines you."" With a similar sentiment, God told Moses to refer to Him as ""I am."" Faith is not a name or a title, it's an action. And it's clear what those actions are. God is love, love is God.

How do I show that here at Santa Clara? The way I answer that will define my identity for the next four years.

freshman year,faith,identity