As I press the cigar to my mouth, I inhale, doubly, both the assuaging smoke and the consultation of my dear friend. It is not often that you can revel in the brilliance of smoking indoors. Aside black coffee and constantly profound and challenging conversation, I find myself romanticizing the atmosphere. For but a moment, my colleague and I envelop the spirit of a past intellection as our actions mirror those of a young Sartre and Camus occupying a café in Paris, wrangling over the most abstruse topics in the most cursory of manners. It is a reflection that we seem to invite, and that invitation almost enhances the experience at hand. It is in this vein that we all pursue an image, or more than one at that.
And this glamorization and imitation of our idols in society is nothing to fear—it is rather something we should all embrace, barring any icons of undeniable ill-repute. At Boston College, there is a surplus of conformity in the decision to pursue nothing, to mold ourselves with a desire to fit in rather than to stand out. We fear the social castigation that often accompanies seeking out an atypical image for ourselves. We fear failing to amount to the very image and mold we hold for our future selves, and thus we are suspended in our journey toward our apex.
Too often, BC students forge an image based on that of those around them, peers who, on the surface, seem to have firmly grasped life and all its challenges. It is in this way that our student body yields so many synonymous figures, differing only by name. Instead of encouraging assimilation, we should each, as individuals, strive to emulate the people who we hold with high regard within society. Too often we are paralyzed trying to find originality when the inspiration needed to assist our formation resides in so many of the people we already idolize. George Bernard Shaw states, “Life is not about finding yourself, it’s about creating yourself.” Thus, we must form ourselves in the image and likeness of all those we revere and all the splendid attributes they represent. We should not be afraid to echo the prose of our favorite writers, imitate the notes of our favorite singers, or embody the message of our favorite intellectuals. It is in the attempt to acquiesce the admirable facets of these people that we garner within ourselves the pieces of our most excellent self.
It is when our trepidation prevents us from chasing an image that our progress as individuals is truly halted. There exists a shrewd aphorism that goes, “All art has been contemporary.” In the same mood, all humans are individuals contemporary relative to those who have come before them. When we neglect the possibility of drawing inspiration from the personas and atmospheres that precede us, we refuse to acknowledge the splendor of any life before ours. There is certainly no need to “reinvent the wheel” but rather a pressing demand to develop and perfect it. Alas, we should not attempt to flourish without help, and we should not be weary of adopting the traits and features of the many great characters in this great story of life. When we are willing to do so, perhaps we will find that we did not transform into those we esteem, but instead we became someone esteemed by others.
As I drag the cigar from my lips, I exhale, doubly, both the alleviating smoke, and my careful rejoinder. I can feel the dichotomy of satisfaction in knowing that I am both chasing an image yet creating one at the same time. Thus, here we must all attempt to hunt down an image we admire—maybe even two or three or four—as it is in the summation of these images and values we chase that we find our true self. Never again will we have such access to resources, teachers, and, paramountly, time. It is here, then, at BC where we must decide what images we as individuals are going to chase, and how we plan to create ourselves. We must not be afraid to strive toward an ideal, toward a romanticized personality, and in doing so realize how the formation of ourselves has benefitted immensely.
Featured Graphic by Anna Tierney / Graphics Editor