Undergraduate Student Blog, Speaking of Princeton

Undergraduate Student Blog

Author: Thomas Ray Garcia ’16

Pharr, Texas • English View Profile

Leading Different Lifestyles

Discovering how Princeton has shaped me

Many people keep themselves busy with hobbies; I lead different lifestyles. There is Thomas the Scholar, the Runner, the Writer, and the Mentor. I claim these titles as lifestyles due to how much time I dedicate to them as well as how each one defines me. They all serve as pieces of my identity, and without one of them I’m simply not myself.

This is how I define each lifestyle:

Scholar – Analytical and studious. Observes and learns from others. Reads hundreds of pages a week for self-development.

Study Break
Taking a break at the study station.

Runner – Forward-looking and carefree. Endures and welcomes the physical stress.  Averages 50 miles a week based on self-made half marathon training schedules.

Running
Running in the Princeton Half Marathon (photo credit to Team U).

Writer – Imaginative and fantastical. Drifts and creates alternate worlds. Writes 1000 words a day.

My spot
This is where I do most of my writing and thinking (when the weather is right).

Mentor – Vicarious and concerned. Cares and worries about mentees living miles away. Manages a college awareness and mentorship program for underprivileged students.

PSJA CSLAP
This is me in my College, Scholarship, Leadership Awareness Program (CSLAP) costume.

Before coming to Princeton, I led different lives. What is the difference between leading different lifestyles and leading different lives? I believe everyone can have more than one lifestyle but only one life.

Because of this mindset, during high school I found myself divided in four. At times I struggled to discover what kind of life I was meant to lead. For example, I felt that Thomas the Scholar thought wholly different from Thomas the Writer, not to mention Thomas the Runner’s inability to understand Thomas the Mentor’s focus on others. I had many passions, but they seemed to contradict one another when pursued simultaneously. I also had difficulty finding time to truly live each life. Attempting to do so sapped the little energy I had left to enjoy any one of them.

What changed my way of thinking? I’m not going to turn this issue into a lesson in growing up (although the Mentor in me urges me to) or a romanticized version of my life (the Writer in me scorns the missed opportunity). The truth is that I don’t know at this moment. I do know that my life at Princeton has helped me shape and define my four lifestyles, and that something about this place has changed my thinking about the issue.

My next four blogs will focus on my four different lifestyles and their connections to my Princeton experience. By writing these entries, I wish to arrive at some sort of conclusion. I hope you will join me.