Posts Tagged ‘identity’

Discovering Yourself: Realizing Your Interests Beyond the Crowd

Saturday, July 31st, 2021

Arguably one of the most difficult aspects of being new to New York City is discovering one’s true identity when having never lived alone before. Despite my close familial relationships, there has always been a feeling of involuntary performance while living under the watchful eyes of my parents, who have expectations about what kind of person I am and will always remain. Moving out was simultaneously one of the toughest and most relieving moments of my journey as a student in New York because the city offers its inhabitants complete anonymity and a chance to explore personal identity beyond the places they come from. It was terrifying to consider my own identity beyond what I became comfortable with because this was the first time that I had complete control over what kind of person I wanted to become; the only eyes I had on myself were my own because no one was yet familiar with the performance of a personality I had become merely comfortable with. 

Despite this anxiety, attending The New School opened my eyes to a diversity in ways of being that I had previously never thought of. Even from the first day, I could tell that people in the city were unapologetically themselves, whether it be loud through political activism or attention grabbing in fashion. This seemed to be the dividing factor between newly mint freshman and seasoned city students; some people knew themselves much better than others. Having not yet made true connections aside from my assigned roommates, I ventured to find other ways of connecting with people and discover my own identity beyond appearances.

A flyer found on a TNS bulletin board advertising philosophy workshops

I have found that a key way of understanding my likes and dislikes is to try everything available. This means indulging in courses that I would have otherwise never considered prior to becoming a university student when I had always considered myself too shy or antisocial. I discovered that I wanted to minor in philosophy because I decided to take an introductory philosophy course that met at 10 o’clock in the morning! Before this, I was always passionate about literature but never interested in understanding the technicalities of thinking; in these introductory courses, I discovered the many ways of thought that influence the ways people navigate the world, thus opening up my perspective to the worldview of others. I would even argue that I have become more empathetic because I am open to listening to different schools of thought that influence lives. A notion that helped me to excel in these seminar style discussions that were held in class was to remind myself that no one there knew me but myself, thus I held the power to recreate myself into the person that I wanted to be and to be as vocal as I wanted despite my initial shyness that I believed I was obligated to bring with me from high school. This mentality liberated me from mere compliance and helped me grow into myself.

Flyer advertising a conference at TNS

The advice to try everything extends beyond school. Take a look at the bulletin boards hanging up around campus: does anything catch your eye? Universities often hold mixers for specific demographics and special interests, even if the event may look intimidating at first, always remember that you are not obligated to stay for the whole duration of the event! This mentality helped me attend many school organized events on my own; there is often an unwritten rule that students should stick with their initial friend group during the first few weeks at their new university, but remember that this is not mandatory and that you are free to do whatever you want! Take the time to consider what you want to do rather than moving aimlessly within a crowd. Most events are more fun when you go alone because you have the freedom to dictate your own actions without any one else’s influence. I particularly like going to open mics, concerts, and other more crowded events on my own because I am the only person I have to look out for while I am there. This also gives me the opportunity to mingle with people that I would have otherwise not spoken to if I were in a group. I find that it is often difficult to dislodge myself from a group that I enter an event with, coming alone lets me find new people to socialize with. Most of the time if you find yourself at an event you willingly participate in, you will be surrounded by like minded individuals! So put yourself out there and focus on what you like before settling just because everyone else likes something.

Last but not least, another resource beyond bulletins and school mixers that can help new students in the city discover their own identity is to read, read, read! It is incredible how vast the libraries are in liberal arts colleges; I know that I was completely floored by the titles available at The New School the first time I set foot in the library. Growing up immersed in books, I have developed an infatuation with life that stems from romanticization of the real world. Realizing this has been surprisingly uplifting because it helps me see the positive possibilities in life beyond my immediate scope. Even beyond fiction, though, reading about other people’s experiences and perspectives on life has opened my eyes to aspects of myself that I was never particularly in tune with. When you have the free time, consider browsing the shelves of your university library and reading up on subjects that interest you. Databases like Jstor and ProQuest are also available right at your fingertips and can lead you to similar subjects that you may find just as interesting.

  And remember that at the end of the day, you are the only one who has true say in your interests and how you decide to live your life. Allow yourself to step out of the comfortable box that you have become familiar with prior to becoming a university student! 



  • Try everything! Take classes that you think you may be interested in even if you do not think that you will initially “fit in.” 
  • Break out of the mentality that you must remain the same person forever!
  • Search school bulletins and event calendars for interesting student led events.
  • Attend events on your own – learn about yourself beyond attachment to groups.
  • Read, read, read! Remember that your school probably has affiliated university libraries that you can also get into! (ex. TNS students have access to NYU libraries!)

This is just a handful of advice for incoming New York City students looking to find themselves and thus eventually find where they fit in. Be the key person who knows your own likes and dislikes, try not to follow a crowd, and remember to always be yourself even if it may seem frightening at first. Everyone has struggled with the notion of identity at some point and it should not be a race to find like minded people to be friends with! Never settle!


Helisoa Randriamanana is an aspiring writer, academic, and recent Spring 2021 graduate of The New School with a BA in literary studies and a double minor in philosophy and religious studies. She is interested in jump starting a career in the world of book publishing and most of her work, both fiction and non-fiction, reflects the humanist philosophy of Emmanuel Levinas.


Wait a Minute, Who ARE You?

Tuesday, December 1st, 2020

How often do you check in with yourself?  Oftentimes, college life goes at such a fast pace that students will “leave” themselves behind, putting deadlines ahead of their well-being. It definitely doesn’t help that many professors like to think that students can afford to devote 100% of their time to their class, but when you have five classes, the math doesn’t quite add up. Considering most can’t afford to devote 100% of our attention to education in general- let alone a single class- one can very easily feel overwhelmed. Without a doubt, stress is a frequent and unfortunate element of college culture; more than 40% of college students experience an above-average level of stress, as reported by the National College Health Assessment– though, anecdotally, I suspect the number is much higher than reported. 

When you can’t relieve your stress in a healthy way, it builds up within you and quickly you can find yourself experiencing burnout, which is a miserable thing. Personally, when I am burnt out, I dissociate– it feels like you’re watching yourself from the first person, as though you were merely an observer in your daily life, rather than an active participant. The advantage of this state of “autopilot” is that I can push through daily life, even if I am overextending myself. The obvious consequence, though, is that it can be easy to lose yourself in your daily routine. Do note that dissociation is a common thing, and just about everyone will experience it at least a few times in their life. But, if you feel that way all the time, that is when it becomes a problem. It took me a very long time to realize that I had a problem with dissociation as it was (and still is) a coping mechanism of mine. While not everyone may relate with dissociating as a reaction to burnout, everyone will develop coping mechanisms to deal with burnout and daily strife. The important thing is that you must be able to identify when you are using these coping mechanisms, and then be able to be honest with yourself; is this healthy?

The ability to check in with yourself is an important life skill that often gets swept under the rug. Certainly, nobody, throughout all my years, of education taught me to ask myself, “Hang on a minute. Who am I? Is this what I want?” and I expect that many will relate to that notion. From a young age, many feel pressured to do well in school, and while education is an important thing, it’s almost important to understand why you do the things you do in life. Don’t just go to college because it’s the expected thing to do, go to college because it’s what you want to do. It can have a sizable difference in the actual quality of your education; a study from 2018 found that students who engage an activity out of their own free will were less likely to be exhausted and cynical, and are more efficient when compared to those who engage in an activity due to external pressures (such as parental pressure). Unfortunately, the reality is that many students are unable to pursue what they want because of external pressures, and so are subject to higher levels of burnout. Therefore, here are some tips I can offer on how to deal with burnout.
  • Recognize how burnout feels for you. It’s an important level of self awareness to have, to acknowledge when you are feeling run down. It will help you pace yourself and will, in the long run, benefit your mental health, which will translate into more productivity. Burnout can be procrastination, a loss of motivation, imposter syndrome, general exhaustion and depression, or really any number of things. It’s a general sense of resentment towards your work (or study) that impedes your daily function. Remember– it’s totally normal; nobody can devote 100% of themselves to something 100% of the time. 
  • Find something to break up your daily schedule. Oftentimes burnout can result from a monotonous schedule. Thus, introducing something new will keep things interesting and can be a good distraction from a busy schedule. It could be a new hobby, or impulsive plans with your friends, or just anything different; but it will help energize you and make you more productive. 
  • Avoid negative people. It’s a pretty general thing, but the thing with burnout is that it drains your energy and your motivation, and dealing with toxic people will only waste the energy you have left. 
  • Get some sleep. We’re all guilty of it; sleep deprivation is a pretty regular thing for most students. For most people in general, too. But the impact a good night’s sleep can make is woefully underrated. There’s a point of exhaustion where studying just won’t help anymore, and you’re better off getting some rest instead. 

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By Sebastian Ortega

Sebastian is a student at the Fashion Institute of Technology, where he majors in Fashion Business Management. He’s worked behind the scenes of New York Fashion Week with the company Nolcha Shows, and in the office of Elrene Home Fashions. Some day, he hopes to be able to make his own claim in the fashion industry by starting his own business.

For over 20 years, the Campus Clipper has been offering awesome student discounts in NYC,  from the East Side to Greenwich Village. Along with inspiration, the company offers students a special coupon booklet and the Official Student Guide, which encourages them to discover new places in the city and save money on food, clothing, and services.  

At the Campus Clipper, not only do we help our interns learn new skills, make money, and create wonderful e-books, we give them a platform to teach others. Check our website for more student savings and watch our YouTube video showing off some of New York City’s finest students during the Welcome Week of 2015.


Interracial Relationships: Do Those Count?

Thursday, September 14th, 2017

As a part of my white-denial phase as outlined in my previous post, during late high school/early college, I decided that I was only attracted to men of color. No more blondes for me- I liked dark skin and eyes, and definitely only dark hair was going to cut it.

This impulse arose from a mixture of factors. For one, part of denying my whiteness involved asserting that I wasn’t attracted to white men. Secondly, I was just exiting that thrash-around-and-shock-other-people-until-you-figure-out-who-you-are stage that many teenagers go through. I rather enjoyed announcing to my friends that I didn’t date white boys- not that boys of any type were lining up to date me. Of course, thinking about those conversations now makes me cringe, but I suppose it’s all a part of the process. And finally, I had a vague sense that I was fighting white hegemony and homogeneity by turning my attention to men of color. If I had kids with and married a non-white man, not only would I avoid contributing more white people to the world, but I would also have a life partner who would constantly be able to check my privilege and curb any racist tendencies I might have.

Of these impulses, the last one was getting at something important. It was good that I was able to see men of color as potential partners, as desirable. However, despite my good intentions, there was a dark side to this instinct that was very dangerous. By only giving attention to men of color, I was risking fetishizing them- wanting them because of their color, not for the people they were. Furthermore, I was elevating myself through my association of people of color. Because I only like men of color, I was determinedly “not-racist” and, thereby, better than most whites. Rather that pursuing justice, I was feeding my own ego, upheld by my identity as a white ally to people of color.

Once I realized this, I tried to evaluate my intentions each time I met a potential partner. Was I interested in him, or had I trained myself to only look for dark skin in a crowd of white? I eventually found that I was attracted to a wide range of men- black, Latino, Asian, and more (remember, identity is complicated!) And yes, the joke’s on me: I fell for a white guy, hard. After that, I had to admit that it was stupid of me to try to cut white guys out of my spectrum of interest.

During my senior year of college, I was talking to one of my Mexican friends. A self-professed dater of white girls only, my friend commented, “You know, I feel like several of the white women I’ve been with have only dated me because I’m Latino and speak Spanish.” I had always made fun of him for only dating white girls, but this made me think- wasn’t that exactly what I had done when I refused to date white guys?

These past two years, I have been able to reconcile my openness to white guys while remaining aware of my tendency to fetishize men of color. Even though I had fallen for a white guy, my history was statistically stacked against him- the majority of my interests just happened to be men of color.

Given this fact, it didn’t come as much of a surprise when, upon meeting my current boyfriend, he happened to be an Asian man with olive skin and dark features. His dad is white and his mom moved to the States from Japan, but you wouldn’t be able to tell by merely looking at him (phenotypes can be reeeally misleading). He was born and raised in Los Angeles, and with his affinity for guns and cars, I joke that he’s more American than I am. We sometimes talk about identity and race, but it’s usually not in the context of our relationship. When we do discuss it, I’m certainly not as obnoxious as I used to be. The more I get to know him, the more I feel confident that I’m with him not because of the misguided ideas from my youth, but because of the wonderful person he is.

By Anna Lindner

Anna is a Campus Clipper intern and a first-year Master’s student in NYU’s Media, Culture, and Communication program. Her research interests include critical race and gender theory and their resultant intersectionality. When she’s not studying, Anna enjoys visiting friends, catching up on TV shows, and lifting weights. For over 20 years, the Campus Clipper has been offering awesome student discounts in NYC, from the East Side to Greenwich Village. Along with inspiration, the company offers students a special coupon booklet and the Official Student Guide, which encourage them to discover new places in the city and save money on food, clothing and services.

At the Campus Clipper, not only do we help our interns learn new skills, make money, and create wonderful e-books; we give them a platform to teach others. Check our website for more student savings. 


How to Navigate White Identity

Friday, September 8th, 2017

When I was first exposed to racial justice work, I went through a serious white-guilt phase. I was learning about institutional racism and other obstacles people of color faced, and I became uncomfortably aware of how I might be indirectly contributing to oppression. I dealt with that guilt by trying to distance myself from other whites. This of course wasn’t really possible, given the amount of white people surrounding me on a daily basis, but my friends started to notice. In response to my denouncement of white culture, my friends would say, “Anna hates white people.” I would weakly deny it, but they did have a point.

As a 14-year-old, I was confusedly trying to compensate for white privilege by clumsily embracing other cultures. It was a little misguided, but I was on to something. By distancing myself from white culture, I was able to better understand other cultures. Being stuck in white guilt was debilitating, but it was a necessary step in my growth as an ally. If I had stayed in that phase, bitterness and a skewed sense of the world would have kept me from forming friendships with not only whites, but with everyone. I had to come to terms with my whiteness because it was something that was never going to change. At the same time, because I had distanced myself from white culture, I was able to see more clearly the parts that were problematic. White culture becomes problematic when it is so dominant that all other cultures become the “other,” standing in contrast to the “norm,” white culture. The “othering” of non-white cultures results in the alienation of people of color, leading to stereotypes and discrimination.

During college, I realized that I could claim the majority of my white culture, while dismissing the problematic aspects. For example, I could acknowledge that I was white, but challenge the privileged way I was treated simply due to skin color. I could protest when my friends of color were mistreated, and use my privilege to help rather than hurt. Of course, this is a broad commitment which is difficult to enact in concrete ways, and I’ve struggled to find a way to respectfully do this work. For example, I reject the idea that the only acceptable form of “family” is a nuclear (mom, dad, fewer than 4 kids) one. However, it would be playing into stereotypes to assume that all Latino families are extended (including grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc.) or that all black families have only one parent in the home.

As you can probably tell, there are several lines to toe here. If you’re a wypipo (white person,) the best guiding bit of advice is to do a lot of listening. Every one of your friends will have a different opinion, and it’s a good idea to gather knowledge from each of these perspectives. Also, prepare to be uncomfortable! Part of the white privilege I try to surrender is always being the majority. This involves putting myself into situations where I’m in the minority. Although I’m still protected by my white privilege, I need these moments in order to understand what it feels like to the outsider. If you’re uncomfortable, you’re doing something right.

My apartmentmates and I poked fun at white culture with our Basic White Culture shoot (note the pumpkin)

My apartment mates and I poking fun at white culture with our Basic White Girl shoot (note the pumpkin).

By Anna Lindner

Anna is a Campus Clipper intern and a first-year Master’s student in NYU’s Media, Culture, and Communication program. Her research interests include critical race and gender theory and their resultant intersectionality. When she’s not studying, Anna enjoys visiting friends, catching up on TV shows, and lifting weights. For over 20 years, the Campus Clipper has been offering awesome student discounts in NYC, from the East Side to Greenwich Village. Along with inspiration, the company offers students a special coupon booklet and the Official Student Guide, which encourage them to discover new places in the city and save money on food, clothing and services.

At the Campus Clipper, not only do we help our interns learn new skills, make money, and create wonderful e-books; we give them a platform to teach others. Check our website for more student savings.