Straight outta the South
2011 is right around the corner. A new year often brings hopes of new opportunities, fresh starts, and unforeseen possibilities. For college students, it marks the beginning of another semester. For high school seniors, the majority of applications have been sent in and the waiting process begins. Before the clock hits midnight on January 1st, many of you may write out resolutions and goals for the upcoming year. Maybe you want to get straight A’s that last semester in high school, help your parents around the house more, or exercise 3-5 times a week. All of those are great, but as you prepare to make those changes, remember to keep one important thing in mind. You’re amazing just as you are.
As you finish up the last semester & start hearing back from different colleges, you may start envisioning your freshman year…the classes you’ll take, friends you’ll meet, and fun you’ll have. In many cases, there are attributes or habits that students had in high school that they want to leave in high school, eager to present a fresh & new persona to college peers and professors. Although the new educational atmosphere will most likely deviate considerably from your high school experience, you don’t have to lose who you were back at home in the process, especially as you try to transition.
I remember being afraid that I’d be too out of place in the big state of California (never mind that I’m in the tiny town of Claremont) after coming from a state like Arkansas. I didn’t want to be the naïve country gal fresh outta the boondocks, so I tried to smother my accent at times and know just as much about “big city things” as others. Only after I established strong friendships and felt more at home within the college did I realize that I didn’t need to be anyone else, or reshape who I was. Now, people back home tell me that they don’t hear the accent anymore, and newcomers at school are surprised when I tell them that I’m from the South. The tables have turned, and I’m not sure if it was for the best after all. I didn’t “become” smarter because I lost my Southern twang. I wasn’t a better person because my vowel sounds shortened, and I stopped “fixin’” to do things. I’m still myself, and still capable of succeeding at Pomona while being that happy, Southern-raised belle.
As you start thinking more and more about college, resolve to be firm in who you are and believe in your beliefs and values. It’s great to transform and grow, but it’s also okay to retain a strong sense of self and pride in who you are. When looking back after more than a year, I’ve realized that many changes are imperceptible as they occur; only receiving notice long afterwards. Maybe this year, one of my resolutions will be to reassume my deeply imbedded habit of using “ma’am” and “sir”…nothing wrong with a little hint of Southern hospitality : )