Students should break down barriers

Story by Katie Thurbon

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I recently asked a friend of mine at what point in his life he stopped considering himself a boy and started considering himself a man.

I expected him to reply with a poignant coming-of-age story about an incident in his life that forced him to grow up. Instead, my 24-year-old friend, who grew up in the ghetto region of the capital city of Morocco and has been through more difficult situations than anyone I’ve ever met, told me he still often thought of himself as a boy.

He continued by saying he didn’t see any point in putting labels on himself because he felt they were restricting.

I thought about this and realized the reason I had asked him the question in the first place was to attempt to figure out how I thought I should be viewing myself as a 22-year-old soon-to-be college graduate. I suppose as a child, I assumed I would feel more “grown up” by this point in my life.

I looked back on my three and a half years at Baker University and definitely acknowledged that I had changed and grown during my time here, but there wasn’t any one moment in time that I could pinpoint as being especially altering.

Then I read a “Calvin and Hobbes” quote someone posted on Twitter that didn’t exactly explain things, but did make me think I wasn’t alone in feeling this way.

In one of the comics, Bill Watterson, author of “Calvin and Hobbes,” said, “Know what’s weird? Day by day, nothing seems to change, but pretty soon, everything’s different.”

This is pretty much how I would describe my college career. And as I thought about this, I realized the reason I had been able to gradually change was because I slowly broke down the barriers that either I had set up for myself or that society had set for me.

My life, and the life of my family, is nothing like I would have imagined as a child. But I have learned you should never put your life or the lives of those around you in a box–allow yourself to expand.

Through my semester abroad last fall, I definitely saw things from an outsider’s perspective that I did not like about the United States, but one thing I certainly cannot argue is that this is a place where a seemingly endless amount of options are open to you. One of those options even includes leaving the United States and building your life somewhere else.

While we are far from treating everyone as equals, I appreciate the freedoms that the United States does offer. And while any of my friends could tell you I am not a Miley Cyrus fan, I can’t help but respect her willingness to challenge social norms.

So as I attempt to figure out my life after college, I am constantly grateful for the fact that I feel as though I have nothing holding me back, and I am hopeful that every single one of my fellow soon-to-be graduates feels the same way.