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Davis, California

Tuesday, April 23, 2024

How keychains and pins can be a representation of who we are and who we wish to be

UC Davis students express their identities through creative personalizations of their belongings


By LYNN CHEN — features@theaggie.org


An important aspect of being a young adult is self-expression. As humans, we often observe the world around us and seek to find ways to emphasize our identities to others.

One creative outlet for expressing who we are is through adorning our personal belongings. This may include pins, badges, keychains and an assortment of other ornaments on our backpacks, which are ever-present accessories at UC Davis.

Michelle Zhu, a second-year computer science major, is an avid decorator of her backpack.

“I really like pins from Disney, because my favorite films come from [the company],”  Zhu said.

For instance, Zhu has pins related to movies such as “Zootopia,” “Inside Out,” “Winnie the Pooh” and “Mickey Mouse.” She collected these memorabilia from the various Disney locations she has traveled to, including Shanghai Disneyland Park, California’s Disneyland Park, Florida’s Walt Disney World and Disneyland Paris, according to Zhu.

“I also have pins from places [that] I’ve visited, like Maui and Alaska, to remind me of the cool trips I’ve taken [before],” Zhu said. “I really like having pins on my backpack to express myself as a lover of traveling and all the Disney stuff I like.”

She also has keychains from places like Taiwan and Lisbon, further proof of her fondness for traveling. Additionally, Zhu mentioned the plethora of keychains she attaches to her backpack, many of which also have personal significance to her. 

“I have a giant ‘Among Us’ keychain — which is a joke among my sisters — and keychains I’ve made myself [using] friendship bracelet string[s],” Zhu said.

Furthermore, many of the ornaments on Zhu’s bag are gifts from friends and family. 

“[My close ones] all know how much I like my backpack and decorating it with cute keychains,” Zhu said.

Like Zhu, many others on campus also choose to add creative flairs to their personal belongings.

Mihini Jayasinghe, a third-year political science major, said that she believed expression of the self to be particularly important during the college years, emphasizing that college is a critical time for self-discovery.

“Creative individual expression allows [undergraduates] to realize who they are and explore parts of themselves that they might not have been able to prior to coming to college,” Jayasinghe said. “Now is definitely the time when everyone’s just trying to figure out who they are [and] what they’re passionate about.”

Phoebe Chu, a third-year sociology major, agreed with Jayasinghe’s sentiment. She noted that accessories can be a fun way for students to explore the person they wish to become.

“In college, we’re all trying to find out what career paths or future goals matter to us,” Chu said. “I see people showing their values and beliefs through keychains, pins on backpacks, as well as through stickers on their computers and water bottles.” 

She brought up the larger point that other than reflecting who you are, personal accessories and decorations on belongings can demonstrate one’s goals and aspirations for the future.

For instance, sustainably-made keychains can highlight a person’s journey to becoming a more environmentally friendly consumer. Political pins can illustrate a student’s values that they seek to live by. 

Self-expression through accessories is one popular way UC Davis students reflect their beliefs and passions. By conveying their identities through these key chains, badges and pins, students can learn to be comfortable in their own skin.


Written by: Lynn Chen — features@theaggie.org



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