The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

SMU students gather around a bucket of markers to write an encouraging note to put in “Welcome to the Shelter” kits at event in mid-April on SMU’s campus.
Dallas homeless recovery center, The Bridge, is a home
Morgan Shiver, Contributor • June 20, 2024
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Always wear suncreen

Are you what you want to be?

Let me share a little story with you. When I was nine years old, my parents got a divorce. Up to that point in my life I was Mr. Goody Two Shoes (do people still say that?), but that was uniquely me. I was a perfectionist at everything I did. I did all of my homework meticulously, I formed bonds with all of my teachers, and I participated in all the extracurriculars out there (not to say I was the best at those). My life was structured, and I did things well. I was young, but I was proud of who I was.

Well, after my parents divorced I slowly and unconsciously became a different person. I gained a lot of weight, my grades fell drastically and my demeanor and outlook on life was apathetic at best. This was the darkest period of my life so far. I showed up to class very late, I never did my homework, sometimes didn’t even brush my teeth! (I know! I know!) I was depressed, and I didn’t even know it. I overate, I overslept, I watched way too much TV and lived a sedentary lifestyle that was pathetic.

I felt bad about who I was, and so did everyone around me. During this time it was hard to claim a friend as my own, my teachers hated me and my parents…well, they were pretty absent at this point in my childhood. The reason for this was not that I had a particularly bad attitude; it was the lack of care and effort to be the best I could be because I was simply depressed.

Being the best you can be is not about pleasing other people, but it does come with the territory. Going to class looking like I just rolled out of bed, with no homework, morning breath and the stench of an armpit did not provide for a fulfilling day or facilitate making friends. It’s just a fact that when others look upon you with admiration, you do the same for yourself (not to say that the adoration of people is always for doing a good deed).

This time in my life was a difficult one and I realized that if we don’t pay attention, we lose ourselves to what in Spanish they call flojería – laziness or apathy. I didn’t keep up with society’s standards, but that really just means keeping up with yourself. Last time I checked, laziness was not in style, but it can become a lifestyle. One day I looked in the mirror and I just started to cry. I didn’t like who I was. I realized that I was losing respect for myself. I really didn’t know the reason until just recently. My parents’ divorce really left a bigger effect on me than I realized. I dug deep within myself to figure out why the Brent I know was absent during this period of my life.

By this time I was in eighth grade and I was 14 years old. I had spent five years in a deep depression. I decided that whatever the reason was, it was no way to live. There are people out there who face things I can’t even imagine, yet here I was letting my life pass me by because of someone else’s actions. I changed. I went back to being the Brent I used to be. It was hard at first, but when I got back in the swing of things, I knew it was the true me. I wasn’t the lazy, fat and smelly kid I’d turned into. It was just a product of bad habits and attitudes.

If you are constantly getting negative feedback from employers, customers, family members and friends, don’t just take the, “That’s just who I am,” stance. Take a long and hard look at your behavior and see if that’s really the person you want to be.

This piece has taken many turns, but my point is this: If you are struggling with your identity, ask yourself these questions: How do I view myself? How do others view me? What about me do I not like that I can realistically change?

I am a firm believer in living in reality. We are all beautiful, but we all have our flaws. When there is something about you that you don’t like, you don’t have to wait one minute to start changing it. However, I think some quirks are worth keeping.

Brent Lemons is a junior international relations and political science major. He can be reached for comment at blemons@smu.

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