How to Find Yourself by Taking College Courses

Barry Lenson

Does anybody still talk about “finding yourself”?

A couple of decades ago, I recall, people talked about it all the time. It was a Jack Kerouac/Ken Kesey/Woody Guthrie kind of thing. You headed out across the plains with a guitar or an old car (your choice) and somewhere out there, you found yourself.

Going to college was another popular way to find yourself. You went off to college and then sometime around your sophomore year, you had to call your parents and announce that you had discovered yourself.  Your discovery could be practical (“I am majoring in accounting”) or hazy (“I am love”), but you had to come up with something, or your parents thought they were throwing their money away.

If you Google “find yourself” today, you will discover that the term is still in use.  Apparently Deepak Chopra has found himself, for example.  So has Oprah, who has also found Deepak Chopra. That doesn’t necessarily mean that Oprah is really Deepak Chopra. Though, could be.

But despite the fact that I am exploring this topic in a humorous way, I do think that there is still some validity to the idea that when you take college courses, there is a good chance that you will discover something important about yourself – something useful that could change your life.  You could, for example . . .

  • Discover that you are a whole lot better at math than you realized, and that you can put that ability to use in your life.
  • Encounter the thoughts of a great and profound writer whose insights move your life in a new direction.
  • Catch fire and find the kind of work that you love to do, thanks to an online course that you happened to take.

So you see, there could still be a link between going to a college and finding yourself. Maybe you need a laptop today instead of a Studebaker or a Martin guitar.

Did I ever find myself, by the way? Well, I once saw a guy on the New York City Subway who looked a whole lot like me and that was so scary, I didn’t dare talk to him. Suppose it really had been me?

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