College is a time for emerging adults to explore who they are and develop their identity. Moving away from home, choosing a major, meeting new people, and being in a new environment can impact your sense of who you are, and create more questions than answers. While it’s natural to experience changes to your self-concept, figuring out who you are can feel joyful, painful, awkward, uncomfortable, and exciting. The Counseling Center is a safe place to explore how you’re feeling and decide which resources best support your needs. Below are some tips for coping with distress related to identity development:
- Assess: Take inventory of your preferences, values, beliefs, and attitudes. Take note of areas when you feel unsure about who you are or how you feel.
- Explore: Being open to new ideas and experiences can feel overwhelming, but it may help you either reaffirm long-held practices, or incorporate new facets of your identity.
- Consult: Confide in trusted friends, family members, or a counselor to help you refine your ideas.
- Commit: When something feels right, own it! Join clubs, form connections, and engage in activities that are affirming of your values and identity.
- Adjust: Some parts of our identity are consistent, and others may change over time. Identity development is a lifelong process!
Sometimes, worries about fitting in and resulting feelings of discomfort and pain are related to issues of systemic racism, sexism, xenophobia, homophobia, classism, and ableism. Insensitivity and discrimination in any form is inconsistent with Loyola’s mission and values. If you’ve experienced, or are experiencing Identity Based Bias or Trauma, consider reaching out for support. The Counseling Center offers Identity Affirming Services for all Loyola students.