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Stratton Smith

Evolving Into Self-Reliance

by Stratton Smith | Oct 26, 2016

Just like the millions of Pokémon you caught this summer, we too, evolve into almost completely different creatures as we build our experiences. It’s weird to think we may not be so different from a miniature, yellow dog that shoots electricity from his body that we call “Pikachu.” Just as Charmander starts as a small, powerless creature and develops into an extremely powerful dragon with monstrous wings known as “Charizard,” we too start as powerless creatures, but overtime, we develop into powerful beings.

I recently heard someone’s opinion of why they don’t think people change. In the middle of what she was saying, I realized that I ONLY believe that people change, especially from being a scrawny 18-year-old who talks too much, and then into a hairier 22-year-old… that still talks too much. I believe that we can all look back at ourselves, year-to-year, and find several characteristics or feelings we once had about something or someone, then find that our feelings are non-existent or even warped completely. YOU WILL LOSE MORE FRIENDS THAN YOU WILL KEEP IN LIFE. That is simply how the human experience works, so coming into college, be optimistic, but also don’t be completely ignorant to reality.

When I came to Manchester:

  1. I was heavily involved in my non-denominational, Christian faith
  2. I was completely conservative because of the values and community I was raised within
  3. I wasn’t anti-partying, but I also wasn’t an advocate for it
  4. I thought very poorly of myself
  5. I cared about what people thought of me… A LOT

Although I wouldn’t call it my “biggest” transformation, I want to talk about my faith. So I don’t talk about that part of my life much via social media, but sharing my faith or even having a conversation about spirituality, religion, etc., is something I never reject. My advice to everyone is to CHALLENGE your faith and your belief system. I grew up in the church, where I found refuge, and was a youth group kid throughout high school… BUT college changes us. I tried to get back to church, but I was always comparing other churches to the church I grew up in, which still holds a very sacred, gratuitous spot on my heart. I won’t get into the specific (unless you want to ask!), but it truly was a journey where I had to be completely vulnerable, open-minded, and independent within the dimensions of my own mind.

I came to college as your stereotypical, slightly ignorant, scrawny, white boy. *flashes east-side gang sign* NOW, I’m registered as an “independent” politically, I support same-sex marriage (so much so that I spent my St. Patrick’s Day in a gay bar and it was FABULOUS), I’m extremely anti-war, and most drastically… I like country mus—alright, I couldn’t even type that out without laughing. I hate country music and I’m 90% sure God does, too.

I’ll always have started as that scrawny, white boy and still hold several of the values I was raised alongside, but I’m also an individual with an open mind—one that is eager to progress. When we stop blaming our past for our actions or “why we are the way we are” is when we can evolve into amazing, independent people. To add on to that, I want to end on a quote from one of my favorite books, The Perks of Being a Wallflower.

“So, I guess we are who we are for a lot of reasons. And maybe we'll never know most of them. But even if we don't have the power to choose where we come from, we can still choose where we go from there. We can still do things. And we can try to feel okay about them.”

Stratton Smith ’17 is an English major, hailing from a small town just east of Indianapolis. Stratton is the captain of the tennis team, co-founder of Academic Probation, Manchester's improv troupe, and Vice President of the Theatre & Society club.