What do you want to be when you grow up?

Having done orientations all summer, I frequently asked incoming students why they chose their specific major.  Although some responses included passions, many people spoke in empty buzzwords.  Even worse, Exploration majors were often ashamed of admitting their decision, or in their minds, indecision.  But what is so shameful about recognizing that college, and your first year specifically, is a time to do exactly that…explore?  I’ve found that regarding choosing a major, students are preoccupied with work: type of work, where to work, who to work for, compensation for work, etc.; the last is most common.  But, I’d like to refer back to the more childlike question we should be asking “What do you want to be when you grow up?”

Growing up, I always thought I wanted to be a doctor.  My classes and extracurriculars reflected this desire.  I didn’t always enjoy what I was doing, but I was sure I wanted to be a doctor…or at least I thought I did.  Truth is, I rather arbitrarily chose ‘doctor’ when I was really young, and adults and peers latched on to the idea because it was “impressive.”  So, I went with it, and not many people questioned the ‘why’ of my decision because they were too fixed on the occupation’s status, and, to be honest, so was I.

By the end of high school, when it was time to apply to college, I was beginning to question my doctor dreams.  However, I was too scared to admit this, to both myself and others, so I quietly picked Public Health as my major and chose Ohio State (THE Ohio State??).  Pretty early on I questioned my motivations for majoring in Public Health.  I quickly realized I didn’t want to be a doctor anymore, now that I had a better understanding of what it meant to be a doctor.  I thought maybe I could salvage the major and do health policy, but this led me to my second realization: I was choosing majors based on occupations that had fixed education paths (i.e. undergrad + med school + residency = doctor).  I needed to get out of this headspace in order to figure out what it was that I wanted to do, or, more importantly, who I wanted to be.

I took the time to explore academically my second semester with a GE in the Geography department (Geography 3701 – Making of the Modern World for those that are curious) because someone I looked up to told me it completely changed the way she saw the world.  I wanted that feeling.  That is what I wanted to get out of college, so I chased that feeling.  I got that and so much more when I changed my major to Geography at the end of second semester.

I know that not everyone desires to be a geographer.  We need doctors, lawyers, and engineers, but we need artists, teachers, and academics, too.  As long as you think of your major like I think of geography, you’re off to a good start.  Don’t think of your major as what you’re going to be doing for the rest of your life, but rather how you will be doing it.  Four people could be passionate about environmental justice, for example, but one decides to be an environmental engineer, another an environmental policy analyst, the third a community organizer in an area greatly affected by climate change, and the last an artist whose work changes the way people feel about the environment.  Same cause, different strategies.

It took a lot of time for me to be comfortable with having a major with no set career path, but I don’t want to conceptualize the future in a fixed way.  I want to be, do, study, learn, explore, and create.  My dad always told me, “If you do something you love, you’ll never work a day in your life.”  That’s the dream.  That’s my goal.  That’s my future.

How to Survive Multiple Identity Crises 101

It’s not a surprise to most people that college is a great time to really find out who you are. And usually that’s viewed as a very exciting and positive opportunity for personal growth. But what people don’t really think about (or maybe it’s just me, I was kind of naive like that) is how scary it can be when that person is completely different than who you were.

 

From high school I was used to being extremely involved and pretty well known publicly in my small town. I had centered my entire identity around being the cheerleading captain, a leader in the drumline, and key member of the drama club. I put so much focus on being the best at all these aspects and becoming a representative for these organizations, that I never stopped to work on who I was outside of them. But I was a big fish in a small pond, so when I came to campus these roles that I had known and embodied for so long were no longer a part of my life. It was really hard for me to find my fit on campus and I made it even harder on myself because I came into Ohio State with the mindset that I needed to focus on my academics first (because I was also going through and academic identity crisis but we’ll get to that in a little bit) and to do that I couldn’t waste time trying to find new organizations to join (**Spoiler alert** this was a bad decision, would not recommend).

 

 

But you know, I made the decision and I was going to commit to it gosh darn it. So instead, I worked on my personal identity crisis. Like I mentioned earlier, I came from a very small town and pretty much everybody held the same beliefs. My political views, religious beliefs, and outlook on life were all basically shaped based on the thoughts and opinions of everyone I was raised with. Now I was left on campus on my own because, despite being from central Ohio, I only knew a few people on campus and it was really up to me to make decisions for my life. It was especially hard to be going through this identity crisis with it being such a big political year because of the Presidential election. It’s a weird thing to have to rethink everything you’ve grown up believing.

So instead of taking the scary step to do that on my own, I took the easy way out and used the relationship I recently entered as a distraction. The problem with that was I put so much focus and effort into that relationship that I was used to be introduced as my boyfriend’s girlfriend. And unfortunately, when that relationship ended, I didn’t have that safety net anymore.

Now we’ll get to that academic identity crisis I promised earlier. When I applied to Ohio State senior year, I decided on a major in a very rough and pretty uninformed way. I basically floated through high school. And that’s not to say I skated by academically (I actually graduated top of my class) but I wasn’t passionate about anything. I went to school, took tests, and earned good grades. But there was never a moment that I thought “Hey, this is something I want to do for my whole life.” So I picked a major and pretty quickly figured out I was miserable in it. So here I was in my first year on my own: I didn’t have any extra curricular things I was involved in to take my mind off the fact that I didn’t like my major classes, I didn’t know what I stood for, and I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life.

With all that being said, the thing that I found helped me most was doing some personal research — specifically with political issues. I had to research both sides and decided where I stood as opposed to listening to those around me. But you don’t have to do that research alone. My hall director was super helpful in helping me find organizations and get involved on campus. And I turned to my academic advisor and my mom for advice when picking a new major. Now I’m not going to lie, it’s not something you deal with once and you’re done with it forever. I’m still pinning down who I am, I mean, just last week I dyed all my hair. But we don’t have to do it on our own!

Domestic Violence and College Campuses

In light of Heather Campbell’s recent tragic death, a senior psychology major here at Ohio State, I feel compelled to share a message to the campus about the signs of domestic violence. If you haven’t read the story of her death, you can read the Lantern article here.

In this post, I’m going to reference a couple of things. One is a national organization that recently formed a group here on campus called OneLove, and another is a blog post by another Ohio State student sharing her story and experience with domestic violence from a few years ago.

The United States Department of Justice defines domestic violence as “a pattern of abusive behavior in any relationship that is used by one partner to gain or maintain power and control over another intimate partner. Domestic Violence can be physical, sexual, emotional, economic, or psychological actions or threats of actions that influence another person. This includes any behaviors that intimidate, manipulate, humiliate, isolate, frighten, terrorize, coerce, threaten, blame, hurt, injure, or wound someone.”

Being a victim of domestic violence could mean you’re the receiving end of abusive, or you’re living in a home where abusive behavior takes place; children who grow up witnessing domestic violence are among those seriously affected by this crime.

I think the conversation is important to have because in college the first real relationships we experience as young adults may start forming. We may ask ourselves every day whether or not we think a relationship is “going places”, but the line between a couple that’s not going anywhere or a couple that “has its problems” and a couple that exhibits abusive behavior can be a blurry one. Let’s map out the ten signs of an unhealthy relationship, defined by OneLove:

 

  • Intensity. This can mean having extreme feelings or behaviors that feel like it’s too much, or maybe too much too soon. Saying rash statements too early in the relationship like “I love you” or “I want to marry you” after a week or two of dating could be an example, or anything that feels like the early-stage infatuation is more like an obsession.
  • Jealousy. While completely normal to feel, this sign becomes unhealthy when the perpetrator lashes out or tries to control you because of it. If they get upset when you want to hang out with your friends or other people your partner may feel threatened by, if they accuse you of flirting or cheating with friends or classmates, or if they’re possessive over you even up until the point of stalking. (According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, 1 in 7 women and 1 in 18 men become the victims of stalking, which causes the target to fear that she or he or someone close to them will be harmed or killed.)
  • Manipulation. If your partner tries to influence your decisions, actions, or emotions. This one is difficult to spot, but if your partner is convincing you to do things you wouldn’t normally feel comfortable with and they’re not backing down or acknowledging your apprehension, it’s considered abusive. Frequent apologies and gifts to influence your decisions is also a tactic of manipulation.
  • Isolation. Isolating you from friends, family, or any people is another sign. Your partner may make you choose between them and your friends, insist on spending all of your time together, and even influencing your judgement of your friends and family to the point of dependency on your partner for money, love, and acceptance.
  • Sabotage. Your partner may purposely ruin your reputation by obstructing your schedule to make you miss work, class, practice, anything that makes you productive and gives you a place in the world outside of them. If they talk poorly about you behind your back or threaten to share private information that you shared with them to hold leverage over you.
  • Belittling. If they constantly say things that insult you, hurt you, offend your friends and family, your physical appearance, etc. even if it’s all in “good fun”, eventually it adds up and turns dark, especially it felt a little painful in the first place.
  • Guilting. Making you feel guilty or responsible for your partner’s actions. If they cheat on you and they blame you, saying things like if you had been a better partner then maybe they wouldn’t have cheated. If they threaten to hurt themselves or others on behalf of your decision to leave them is also an example of guilting, or if they pressure you to do anything sexual you don’t want to consent to.
  • Volatility. If you feel like you’re walking on eggshells when speaking to your partner, like something you may say could accidentally cause them to explode on you, then this is an example of volatility. Mood swings, uncontrollable yelling, violent behaviors, threats, and causing fear in you. Volatility is also expressed in dramatic relationships that break up and get back together then break up and get back together again, feeling extreme highs and lows.
  • Deflecting responsibility. While it’s usually true and possible that abusive partners are suffering from their own mental health problems, putting the blame on these does not give them extra leeway to act in abusive manners. Examples of deflecting responsibility can include blaming you or other people in their past for their actions today, using alcohol or drugs as reason to continue acting this way, mental health conditions, past relationship issues, or divorced parents as reasons for lashing out or making hurtful decisions like cheating.
  • Betrayal. The difference in the way your partner acts around you and around others. They could be lying to you, purposely leaving you out of plans or conversations, being two-faced, or cheating.

 

Domestic violence and unhealthy relationships will feel cyclical, like recurring problems happening over and over again with the victim continuously needing to forgive the perpetrator, often feeling like they have no other choice due to mental and emotional manipulation or fear for physical harm on themselves, others, or their partner. The most common victims are women ages 18-24, so now is the time to know the signs and recognize them in your own or your friends’ relationships.

If you believe your friend may be in an abusive relationship, there are things you can do. Most likely, the person is in denial that anything “unhealthy” is happening, so they won’t share a lot of information or they’ll make up excuses for signs they’ve shown that you’ve noticed, like bruises or loud fights with their partner. Being an open ear that doesn’t force them into conversation is more important than ever. Saying things like “You’re always so fun to be around, I’ve missed you!” can make them feel loved and comfortable, and will encourage them to open up. Asking questions about specific behaviors instead of immediately throwing out labeling words like “abusive” will also trigger better responses from them, while the latter may cause them to shut down completely. Saying things like, “It kind of looks like your partner always wants to know where you are or what you’re doing or who you’re with. How does that make you feel?” Even sharing your own perspective about how it would make you feel if that were your partner can encourage them to see your perspective and reanalyze theirs. The conversation should remain friendly, not preachy. You’re not the counselor or the police officer, you’re the friend who could eventually hold their hand when they finally decide to go to those resources. Remember that relationships are complex, and that saying things like “just break up with them” won’t do any good; plus, you’re just another example of someone in their life trying to take control of their decisions. Continuously following up with them and offering resources at the right time can really help them get where they need to be. Some Ohio State resources currently available to students are Title IX and Student Legal Services, plus Counseling and Consultation Services to help with the post-relationship trauma.

If you believe your friend may be the abuser in a relationship, maybe ask questions about how the relationship has been going. If they exhibit signs of dissatisfaction with the relationship, nothing is wrong with asking questions about how you hear them screaming at each other a lot and you just want to make sure they can both enjoy a healthier relationship. Getting another mutual friend who has been concerned as well can help, and isolating the abusive partner and speaking from a place a love can get you a long way. Reaching out to the victim for advice on how to navigate the conversation can also be helpful, since the victim probably knows what sets them off the most. Just be aware that the victim may not want to talk to you about it, and may completely shut you out altogether. Abusers often feel the need to take control of their relationships because they don’t have control elsewhere in their lives, and identifying this can be a start to them realizing that the relationship is not the place to take it out, and that they need help. It is extremely possible that your friend will appreciate you reaching out and will want you to figure things out with. Mental and emotional trauma is not an easy thing to live with, but responding to it by abusing those around you are not acceptable, and we have a responsibility to address these actions when we see them.

If you’re still unclear about what an abusive relationship might look like, I encourage you to read this story about one Ohio State student and her experience, start to finish, with domestic violence.

Together, maybe we can save another Heather Campbell in this world.

Finding Your Blind Spot

What’s Your Blind spot?

I am a people pleaser. If someones me to do my automatic answer is almost yes. I have a fear of disappointing others… I would say that this is my blind spot. I am writing this article today because I have found a huge blind spot this semester. To clarify, a blind spot is where something obstructs your vision. You cannot tell that something is there… whatever it maybe. We all have blind spots and they are present in our everyday lives. My blind spot is seeing my fear of disappointment. I cannot disappoint myself or others. I try so hard to do everything I can for others, but I almost never do anything for me. When people ask me what are my hobbies, how I take care of myself, or really anything like that, I am stunned. I cannot answer that question. What do I do for me? I feel like that is something I shouldn’t be doing… that I should not be doing things for me, but for others. I almost see that as a selfish thing. It is extremely hard for me to say no or “I’m sorry I cannot do that.”

So this semester I decided now is the time for me. I need to give to myself. I need to pamper myself with love and with all the things I need in life to re-balance myself. I need to be clear and upfront about the things in my life that bother me. I need to detox from stress. Return back to working out… ( one of the first things I cut out of my life if it gets to busy). I need to pick up additional hobbies. Rock climbing, kayaking, painting are all thing I want to start. This past weekend I’ve been looking for Bob Ross paint kits, so I can start fulfilling the things I want.

Image result for bob ross memes

Self Care

I am just starting this journey of self care but I want you to be aware of this, too! Start figuring out what will help you be the best you. What is your blind spot? Is it like mine and you cannot say no? Or maybe you say no too much? It could be the way you communicate or really anything that you don’t see yourself doing (or doing too much of!). I only could find my blind spot when someone told me. Asking “What are things that I do that I don’t notice I do?” may help. You may learn funny quirky things that you do… you also might notice something that may concern you. If anything, we at FYE are here to help. Let’s find our blind spots.

 

Making the Most of Your Dining Plan

Oh The Ohio State Meal plan. Whether you have the Gray 10, Scarlet 14, or Unlimited, you need to know how to use it wisely. Here are my pro- tips for using your meal plan to its full potential!  

USE ALL YOUR SWIPES 

For the Gray 10 and Scarlet 14 folks, you should never let your swipes go to waste because they don’t roll over from week to week. (Dining Dollars and BuckId cash DO roll over from week to week) If you find yourself with multiple swipes left over on Sundays, you can spend them on campus. My favorite places to spend swipes are the Ohio Union Market, where swipes are worth $8, and the C-Stores, where swipes are worth $5. At the Union I love getting a panini or two because they hold up well in the refrigerator. Another great place to spend your swipes at the end of the week is Sloopy’s in the Union!

The three C-Stores, or convenience stores on campus are at Morrill, Scott, and Market Place. C-Stores sell frozen meals, snacks, essentials like bread and milk, and my personal favorite PINTS OF JENI’S ICE CREAM. Also, you can use your Swipes and Dining Dollars in combination at on campus locations other than Traditions. Again, swipes are worth $8 everywhere on campus except the C-Stores where they are worth $5.

Try something new! 

There are almost 30 places on campus to eat that offer a wide range of options. If you’re feelin’ pizza but also feelin’ lazy it’s okay because The PAD delivers! I’d also recommend Heirloom Café in the Wexner Center for the Arts. Don’t have time to sit and dine? No worries! At any Traditions location you can get a to-go box when you swipe in to grab food and go! It is still worth a swipe. For locations other than Traditions you can order your food ahead of time on the app Tapingo. The app alerts you when your food is ready; all you have to do is pick it up! If you have BuckId Cash, you can use it at restaurants in Columbus like Buffalo Wild Wings, Qdoba, Chop Shop, Bibibop, and more. BuckId cash can also be used on campus locations.  

The Unlimited Plan 

The beauty of the unlimited plan is that it’s just that, unlimited! You don’t have to eat a meal every time you swipe in; you can make it a grab and go! People may complain about having the unlimited plan because all they have to eat is Traditions. But, there are ways to get creative. My favorite dining hall creations are as follows:  

Milk Shakes= cup+ice cream+milk and stir 

Root beer floats= cup+ice cream+root beer and float 

Ice cream sandwich= cookie+ice cream+cookie and squish 

Hopefully now you’re feeling more like a pro at using you dining plan. Keep an eye out for a First Year Success Series (FYSS) session dedicated to nutrition on campus!

Go Bucks!

Taking Back Your Time: How to Manage Your Time in Your First Semester

Hey everyone! 

 As the beginning of your first year at Ohio State starts to come around in full swing, everything might start to feel very overwhelming. This rang true for me, as my first year didn’t result in academic success. I think the main reason behind my failure to succeed in my major (Zoology/Pre-Medicine) was that I did not manage my time well AT ALL. I had no system to keep track of my events and homework, and I didn’t make a responsible schedule for myself that balanced my free-time and what should have been study time. After finally making a thorough schedule the summer before my second-year, I realized how important it is to stay organized and manage the time I have responsibly. I can’t imagine what I’d be doing now without one. Below are some quick Why’s and How’s of organizing a busy schedule. 

 Why? 

I used to think that I wasn’t the type of person who benefited from a planner (or note-taking for that matter) but as the year rolled around, I quickly became overwhelmed in a futile attempt to keep up with everything. The fact of the matter is, you can’t remember everything on your own. In college, your schedule is almost entirely up to you and having some sort of event-organizing device is simply crucial to keeping sanity AND a balanced scheduled.     

 How? 

Okay, I might sound like a broken record, so how do you go about this practically? For those of you who’ve never needed to use a calendar or planner, it might be hard to start (it was for me). These are some ideas that might work for you: 

 Online Calendars: 

Google Calendar, iCloud Calendar, and Outlook Calendar are all great examples of free online calendars. This my personal first choice (I love Google Calendar). This offers an easy and simple way to color-code, have high accessibility (your phone is probably always on you), and I personally think it’s the least tedious option. Here’s an example of what one of my weeks looks like in Google Calendar: 

 

Physical Planner:  

For some, this is the best choice. Having a planner you can customize and hand-write in is a very appealing option (some studies show that handwriting improves memory). The only stipulation about these is that the nicer versions cost money, you have to write, and you’re not always going to have it.

 At the very least, a reminders app: 

Just having something to jot down quick reminders will improve your quality of life tenfold. 

I hope these few quick tips help get your first year off in an organized way!

 

The Majority Perspective

I am a white Christian in the middle class, and that’s ok.

I grew up with little diversity around me. When there was diversity, it wasn’t much of a difference for me. Needless to say, coming to OSU was like going from 0 to 100 miles per hour in my tiny Toyota Camry. My first year was filled with frustration, eye opening experiences, and a whole lot of learning.

Why do I celebrate diversity? There are many reasons, but here are three that I can clearly identify: being in such a diverse culture has opened my eyes to struggles and realities I had never noticed, it has made me stronger in my beliefs, and I have developed respect for not only the cultures around me, but my own culture as well!

Right away my eyes were opened to the different struggles regarding race and socioeconomic status. My family is not insanely “rich” by any means, but we live comfortably. My parents were blessed and in return they are paying for my college and providing for my needs. In my head I knew that there were people struggling to pay for their own college, but I had not met anyone doing so until I got to OSU. It wasn’t until I truly met people going through financial crises that I realized I should not take my situation for granted. The time they have to spend apply for loans, figuring out grants, working, and even worrying about finances was outstanding to me. If you are from the majority, like me, upper or middle class – don’t take for granted what you have been blessed with. And don’t be greedy with what you have been blessed either.

My beliefs as a Christian have been strengthened. Strengthened because I have had the opportunity to talk to so many people of different religions and backgrounds. I have learned A LOT from people about other religions, or simply not having a religion at all. I had to truly question if what I believe is true, and I had to figure out what I believe by researching and reading for myself rather than base what I believe off of what I have been taught growing up. The amazing thing, and what has made me stronger in my faith today, is that I still choose everyday to believe in Jesus Christ despite the new opportunities and ideas presented to me. This has made my faith grow more in the time I have been at OSU than in my whole life.

As far as diversity – like I mentioned, I have never experienced true diversity until coming to OSU. I have learned so much from my friends who are different from me. People of a different skin color, culture, sexual orientation, religion, and political beliefs are now my friends. We all have different perspectives and backgrounds, but that is what makes us stronger. There is not one narrow minded way of thinking around OSU – there are multiple perspectives representing everyone, not just people like me. Although we have our differences and disagreements, we are able to work together for a greater cause. In regards to my peer leader role, that greater cause is helping the class of 2021 at OSU. I love my team, I love our differences, and I love that our differences don’t discourage us from what is ultimately important in our lives.

I want to end with a quote I heard:

“Through each other’s diversity, we become more aware of our own. Not only do we become more aware, we gain a sense of pride for the diversity of our own culture.”

Am I ashamed to be apart of the majority perspective? Not at all. There was no way for me to control what has been given to me. Have I learned to celebrate and learn from other cultures – certainly. By doing that, I have deepened my respect for every culture and gained a sense of pride for my own.

2016/2017 Retrospective

Four awesome things and four sucky things from my junior year

Math minor

I officially declared and officially finished my math minor! My math class was hard, and at the beginning of the semester I thought about dropping it, but I pushed through and I made it out with a B, which is a grade that I am extremely proud of!

This was probably one of the biggest highlights of my year just because of the struggles I went through in my math classes previously. I started out as a math major, and after getting a couple Cs in my courses and really struggling to stay motivated, I realized math wasn’t for me. This was hard to come to terms with because I felt that by not completing my math degree, I was failing myself. I had always based my self-worth on my intelligence and math skills, and to suddenly feel like I wasn’t good enough took a toll on my self-esteem. By completing my math minor, I was able to reassure myself that I am intelligent and that I can succeed.

Volunteering

I completed 50 hours of training and started volunteering for the Suicide Hotline in Columbus! This is something I have been trying to do for over a year, but it never worked with my schedule. Finally, I felt comfortable enough in my own mental health and had the ability to fit it into my schedule.

Several years ago I needed a suicide hotline, and now to give back, it feels as if I am helping my 15-year-old self get through those tough times. I see myself in every caller, and it just makes the experience of volunteering that much more meaningful to me.

Involvement

I was re-elected onto the executive board of Pride OSU and will now serve as the Vice President of this student organization. This student org. has given me so many great friends and a better confidence in who I am.

Freshman me was so nervous about coming out of the closet, and Pride OSU gave me a place to really figure out myself and feel comfortable that it is okay to be gay. Having a space that I didn’t have to pretend made all the difference when I decided to come out to my other friends and my family.

Summer plans

I decided to go to Europe for a month this summer. Bought a plane ticket to Paris for May 4! Having summer plans made getting through this semester just that much easier since I always have something to look forward to.

Relationship issues

I had been in a relationship for over 5 ½ years until just last month. Overall, it was a difference in values that ended our relationship. We had just each changed too much in different directions to make it work anymore. But I think that the timing of it was perfect. I had so many people that were supportive and I have so many things to look forward to. I have always been a very independent person, so I have a lot of things that I did on my own that gave me a sense of self-worth. Break-ups are almost a universal reality, but they don’t have to be all that bad. In some ways, this was a sucky thing, but it also was an awesome thing, too.

Money issues

Okay I will totally own up to the fact that I am bringing my own money issues onto myself. I mean, I am taking a month-long vacation to Europe. Mainly, this has been a challenge for me because it is the first big purchase that I have had to budget for. Budgeting is hard. I also have to think about what my finances are going to look like for my senior year of college and then what that means for my post-grad education and career. It feels like the rest of my life is right in front of me. And that’s scary.

Self care

With depression, suddenly even the littlest things like showering and doing laundry become arduous tasks. One missed class becomes two, which becomes three, and suddenly the grades are dropping. Self-care is hard to keep up on, but it is so important. I’ve learned that the best self-care is preventative: setting up things in advance to make sure any breakdown is a minor one.

Just school in general

We can all agree that school is difficult. And sometimes life gets in the way, whether it’s a family emergency, a really bad case of the sniffles, or several professors conspiring to make all your assignments due the same exact day (ya feel?). From my experience, junior year has the most difficult classes and is the last year that grad schools will see grades from, so the pressure to do your best is the highest.

What to Expect When You’re Expecting…Your Second Year to be Different

You are nearing the end of your first year at Ohio State! You’re probably studying for finals, maybe figuring out your summer plans, or possibly thinking about your second year already. Whatever the case, I’m glad you are here, because I am going to share about how my second year was different than my first year.

As I returned to campus for my second year, my mindset was different than the previous year. This time around, I felt more confident and prepared. I knew the drill when it came to classes and living on campus. I had time to think about how to approach other aspects of my second year, like applying for my major, committing time to my involvement, and working an on-campus job. In my first year, the majority of my time and efforts was spent on academics; I didn’t have many other responsibilities. I was nervous to see how my new commitments fit in with my course load. I was approaching my second year with excitement and caution. I wanted to continue good standing in my classes, but I was also ready to take advantage of opportunities to help me grow outside the classroom. As I would learn over the course of second year, it is all about learning what’s important to you and finding a balance.

In my first year, I developed some habits that needed to be adjusted for success in my second year. Most of these habits were related to academics: where I studied, how I studied, and when I studied. I started to realize that I did not organize or structure my school work during my first year. This became a big problem for me at the start of my second year. My increased involvement and work forced me to re-evaluate my studying strategies. I learned that I needed to plan when I would work on homework or study for classes in order to do my best. For me, setting small goals for what I wanted to accomplish during a study session was very helpful. During my first year, it was nearly impossible for me to study in my room. I was constantly distracted and unmotivated when I found myself at my own desk. It was challenging for me to study in my room at the beginning of my second year, but I wanted to break that trend. By using my planning and goal-setting strategies, I learned to be disciplined and stay focused when studying in my room. These are just some ways that I have changed since my first year.

The biggest difference that I have seen between my first and second year at Ohio State is in how I spend my time. My first year was a stream of random events and occurrences that were squeezed in between my classes and homework. During my second year, I took time to think about what my priorities were and I ranked them in a top ten list. I then looked at my calendar for a given week and totaled the amount of time that I spent on each of those priorities. I was surprised to find that my priorities were disconnected from what I spent my time doing. I was motivated to change this and began thinking of ways that I could align my time with my priorities. Often you hear about time management skills and how important they are to success in college. I found that filtering my time through my priorities has been the best way to find a balance for my time. I was able to fully invest in my job and involvement while staying on top of my studies, and most importantly, I enjoyed what I was doing.

Your second year isn’t bound to look like mine, but I hope you found my experience helpful. My best advice to you is to reflect on your first year. Think about what you learned and how you grew as a student. I encourage you to think about how your second year might look different and what you can do to prepare yourself. I didn’t think very much about how my second year would go. Take advantage of the opportunity that you have to form some second year expectations and how you will approach reaching your goals, it will serve you well.

The Fear of Failure

Hi.

My name is Bertha Kim and I am a failure.

If you scroll through my Instagram or read my resume, it might look like my life is a series of fun-filled over-achievements: I am the vice president of a sorority, senator for Ohio State’s Undergraduate Student Government, I have two jobs, and I’m on the Dean’s list at a top ranked, prestigious university. I am a girl with many friends and a supportive family, who has fun adventures and likes to travel. This is probably not who you think of when you think FAILURE.

However, I am a failure.

Since I was a young child, I have always hated failing but somehow still managed to fail consistently. I kept seeing red “X’s” next to my spelling test during elementary school and could never beat my friends in Super Mario Bros. To be honest, failing has always made me feel embarrassed and I felt this pressure to avoid it at all costs. As I got older, I realized this pressure I felt was a combination of failing and the fear of not wanting to fail.

As a high school senior, I was (what I considered to be) a failure. I wasn’t the school’s valedictorian and I got rejected from my dream university. I remember late nights of staying up, thinking what I could’ve done better to reach those aspirations and feeling anxious that I would always be a failure.

Then came college. I never knew that there were so many different aspects of failing until I got here! I knew that it was academically challenging at Ohio State, but let me tell you, freshman year general chemistry is rough. I remember receiving my first ever F — flat out less than a 50% — on an exam. College was hard and once again, those feelings of failure crept in.

Just when I thought it couldn’t get worse, I then failed when it came to being social and finding a friend group. Coming from out-of-state, I knew no one at this enormous university. At first I thought that I could easily make friends, only to find out that I am actually super awkward. It was hard for me to find that “group of friends” but for some reason it felt as if everyone else found theirs. The first couple of months I realized I was failing at the social aspect of college, which then led me to stop trying.

I was too afraid to join any clubs or get involved on campus because I feared that it would be uncomfortable and that I couldn’t make any friends that way either. The fear of failure got in the way of my ambitions and my freshman year schedule looked something similar to this:

Class

Eat

Nap

Study

Sleep

I just couldn’t live like that for another year. Luckily, I realized this before it was too late and I still had time to change my attitude and get the most out of my college experience. I applied to internships and got involved with clubs to make the most out of my college years. Freshman year was such a tiring year for me and I constantly felt like a failure. I was someone with big dreams and it was time for me to face my failures and make those dreams a reality.

Fast forward two years and here I am now: a student who is doing well and involved at a huge campus. However, the fear of failure is still lurking over me daily. As I wrap up my junior year, I am preparing to take the MCAT and apply to medical school. Because I am petrified of failing again, I find myself returning to my old mindset of giving up before I even try. I have skipped MCAT classes just to ponder in my bed, wondering what would happen if I confronted my fears. Even as I write this, I feel like a failure and it’s getting in the ways of my dreams.

Sounds terrible, doesn’t it? Simply speaking, this is not how one would want to live life. Life is hard, and I have to come realize that failing is a very real part of it. So breathe. I know it’s so much easier said than done, but listen: it does get better. I have learned that your fears do not define who you are and that whatever stage in life you happen to be in, there will always be  the very real fear of failing.

I usually don’t have the greatest of advice, but I do advise each and every one of you reading this to find an outlet when you feel like you are drowning in your “failures.” That might be dancing to a good song (highly recommend dancing it out to Chance the Rapper) or going on a good run…for me it was talking to a therapist. Whatever destresses you, go do it!

I still struggle with these fears from time to time, but I try to just accept my failures. What makes me special and beautiful is that I’m me and no failure can stop that. So yes, I still fail and I will always fail at things, but it won’t and can’t get in the way of what I want to do with my life.

I’m Bertha Kim, a failure, but also a girl with a lot dreams who’s ready to tackle them with deep breaths and a smile on her face.

I’ll end this blog with a quote of one of my favorite people…

“When you take risks you learn that there will be times when you succeed and there will be times when you fail, and both are equally important.” -Ellen DeGeneres.