College markets itself as a formative place, the site in which we will undergo that amorphous process of self-discovery. It promises us that we will find ourselves on its quads or in its lecture halls.
Identification — the ways in which we self-name and construct the narrative of our being — is fluid and open to our own direction.
And there are so many markers of identity to choose from. Personality tests abound, promising to discover if we are introverted or extroverted, thinkers or feelers.
We can graft ourselves onto any number of identifying groups (ranging from racial to socio-geographic to religious, familial, gendered, functionary, professional — the list goes on).
Even the medical establishment attempts to coral us into pastures of health and sickness, to divide out the normal from the neurotic.
Yet no one explains just how we go about uncovering our essential identities. Perhaps we are meant to complete a Herculean set of tasks — kill the many-headed hydra, sanitize the Augean stables, hold for a moment the world on our shoulders. Self as heroic quest.
Or perhaps we are meant to hunt as the archaeologist among the ruins and refuse of our past to reconstruct a vision of who we are. Pieces of a guitar, mounds of lentils. Self as diorama.
Or should we instead cease the hunt?
Perhaps, we are closer to the geyser. The chaos of our being waits just beneath the surface, fermenting and waiting to erupt — not when asked, but when the earth’s crust can no longer hold. Self as the deep reservoir.