Watson: Self-realization occurs in college


The International Food Fair was on Saturday, April 21, in the Memorial Union. The Great Hall was brimming with people pushed shoulder to shoulder for the food. 

Scott Watson

College is nearly as much a time of self-actualization as one of self-realization. Many students go to their respected universities with the desire for a degree and intentions of making good memories and great friends along the way. Students often feel they have a good grasp on who they are and what they value as they enter college, but leave with a matured sense of self, ripened by their years engulfed in diversity.

Everyone has heard the chastisement of college schooling systems and their tendencies for pushing “left-leaning” curricula on their students. I used to believe that was simply how college was, you show up to class your freshman year and are immediately spoon fed liberal propaganda indiscriminately to the point of brainwashing us (students) to think just like them (faculty). I have not found this to be the case. Most of the political agenda pushing seems to happen within the student body. Most of the forward-thinking initiatives come from the students.

Personal evolution of ideals happens in college not because professors are teaching left leaning or “progressive” curriculum but because students are allowed to separate themselves from what they previously knew and accepted and are surrounded by new ideas and ways of thinking different from their own. This is an important and ever revolving piece of any progressive society. Nearly every recent push for civil rights, every revolution, every cry for peace and acceptance has begun in our age group of society, in nearly every culture throughout time.

Universities are often credited (or maligned) for leading their students to new, radical ideals. I believe it to be the product of a student’s mind being released from the harness of familiarity as they leave the safety of their guardian’s watch. For 18 years, a person is raised and indoctrinated in the beliefs of their guardians. Whether the person follows the teachings of their guardian or rebels and opposes them, they are undoubtedly affected by those teachings. It’s not until a person cuts themselves out of their safety net and experiences the world for themselves that they truly begin to create their own schema of values and morals based not only on the teachings received from guardians but from their own experiences as a member of the world as well.

Iowa State is a fairly diverse place as Iowa goes; it doesn’t take too much exploring to find someone with a few different points of view from your own. Visit with anyone you can to get their point of view; especially if they come from a different place than you. Talk about something relevant, something stirring; not merely an account of recent events. I’m sure you can’t make it through three sentences before finding a topic you can disagree on. But don’t hesitate to pursue the conversation because of differing opinions, this is how new ideas are formed and poor, previous conclusions are reverted.

Many of our standing ideals are founded in a small amount of logic but remain our ideals because we rarely stop to consider the underlying reason for a belief — ignorance veiled by ignorance. Seek differing conclusions, challenge your own pre-existing conclusions, reformat if necessary, repeat. This doesn’t mean you should take everything you hear on a Friday night as fact; but be open minded to the reality that it could be fact, and you may have been wrong on the subject.

This is progress in motion — new ideas are formed from the ashes of old as previous flaws in logic are corrected or reworked for a different solution. It is our age group in society that attempts to fix what is wrong with our world and make a change (presumably for the better).

Go, mingle and diversify yourselves. As ridiculous as it may sound, it is our turn to make a splash in history, to correct an injustice, or simply change the way our world views something or someone. Don’t be afraid to have a meaningful conversation. Talk about real issues, become educated, spread the good ideas and discard the bad ones. We have the pleasure and the obligation as college students to change and move the world in the path of progress, in which it must evolve to appease our incoming generation’s revamped ideals.