Reinvention is something that happens naturally as you move through different life events, and especially, meet new people. Spending time around a certain group of people is likely to cause you to soak up their mannerisms and become more invested in their interests. When I went interrailing this summer and spent 3 weeks almost constantly with the same people, I found that one of my friends ended up picking up all the annoying phrases and unnecessary swearing that he used to tease me about. Therefore, it’s only natural that people tend to change when they move to university.
The stereotype is that everyone goes vegetarian, dyes their hair, and gets a nose piercing or tattoo. Sitting here with pink hair that I definitely didn’t have when I left home, I can’t exactly deny this, but from the people I’ve spoken to about this topic, the changes they’ve experienced are much more subtle. Personally, the main difference I’ve experienced is that I’ve been a lot more confident in the past couple of months, but I think this is likely because I’ve just been thrown into a lot more situations that require that kind of social confidence, #fakeittillyoumakeit.
However, if you’ve purposely reinvented yourself for your first year at university, it’s likely that you’re finding it pretty hard to keep up. The times when I’ve transformed who I am to fit in with a new crowd, I’ve found it becoming really exhausting really quickly. But change doesn’t have to last forever. My self-professed ‘not-a-party-person’ flatmate went out every night of Freshers’ Week and arrivals weekend bar one, but since that, she’s gone back to preferring movie nights and Bake Off screenings to club nights (which to be fair, I think we all do sometimes). University is meant to be a place where you can be all different things at once, so getting a new interest or doing something differently doesn’t mean you’re being a traitor to who you were. You’re just trying out new things and being a different version of yourself, one that you might actually prefer. And if you don’t, you’ll slip back into your old ways soon enough.
I think it’s also true that those of us who have gone from school to university without taking a year out have been stuck in the mould of a persona that we may have grown out of in the time we’ve been around those same people, and university is now the clean slate to grow into your ‘adult’ personality. Although, as my anxiety meant I didn’t really drink in high school but I’ve become mentally healthy enough to drink recently, I feel like I’ve now just having my teenage rebellion phase about 4 years later than everyone else. Another change I’ve noticed is that being gay has become a much larger part of my identity and I’m not sure how I feel about it. I’m out and proud of my queer identity, but I don’t want it to become my whole identity.
At the end of the day though, however much I may seem to have changed to people back home, I’m still me. I’m still a nerd who spends most of her time on political twitter, likes basic white girl indie music and will only buy chips at McDonalds because I hate the rest of the food. So, I guess my message is: you don’t need to fill the stereotype of reinvention by doing something drastic if you don’t want to, but you’re also not required to be the exact same in every aspect as you were before you came to Bath. As said by George Eliot, ‘It’s never too late to be what you might have been’, so maybe try something new today – what do you have to lose?