What Your Peer Leaders What You To Know About the Peer Leader Role

Leia Washington

I knew that I would love my time as a Peer Leader, but I was surprised by how much it has impacted my college career. As any Peer Leader would tell you, this position is way more than just a job. It requires hard work, commitment, and a large amount of dedication. However, the rewards are well worth it. There are no greater feelings than seeing one of your first-year students succeed, feeling the love and support from the rest of the peer leader team, and knowing that you have made an impact on this campus. This position will allow you, and your first-year students, to rediscover love for Ohio State and all that this wonderful buckeye community has to offer.

Madi Task

I think meeting so many new faces and being able to connect with them wasn’t the hard part for me, that’s the fun part and why I wanted the job. The hard part is knowing that so many intimidated freshman look to you for guidance and trust you with their stories and intimate insecurities, and it’s absolutely imperative that you remain an unbiased, trustworthy, and supportive voice for them. The job pays off a lot in terms of what you can get out of your experiences and relationships at Ohio State, but don’t come in thinking it’s just about hosting fun events with freshman. You might end up reliving your most problematic parts of your freshman year with someone just like you. I’ve learned how to better hold myself accountable to being that success story I wanted to see my freshman year by talking about the dreams of goals my freshman want for themselves this year.

Tony White

Being a Peer Leader is an amazing opportunity to enrich the lives of others during a very pivotal time in their lives. It is an important responsibility that takes courage, responsibility, and builds character. Every experience is what you make it, and this has the potential to be an unforgettable life changing experience.

 

Daphne-Jane

I think the most important trait of an effective peer leader is compassion. Being compassionate allows me to better care for my students by enabling me to truly work to understand their struggles and help them to determine the best solutions for them.

 

Logan Woodyard

To be a Peer Leader is to be an authentic leader. It’s important to be vulnerable and create a space for others to be vulnerable with you. Share your mistakes! Give what you have learned. And above all else, listen and love all people well.

 

Sarah Myers

As a Peer Leader, I have learned skills that help me relate, empathize, care for, and serve first year students. The office of First Year Experience not only prioritizes supporting students, but also how we support them. These skills have not only helped me build relationships with first year students, but it has helped me become a better person! This job has taught me that simply caring for people and giving them your time can truly make a difference ion their lives. I used to be in the habit of hoarding my time as my own, but now, I cherish the time I get to share with others. I have been so blessed with the opportunity to be a Peer Leader. If you even have the slightest interest in the job – APPLY NOW. You won’t regret it.

 

De Maas

Knowing that you can provide a student with resources and help them navigate campus from a student perspective and make Ohio State feel like home is extremely rewarding.

 

Corey Cox

Being a Peer Leader has allowed me to interact with students that are not like me in various ways. It has challenged me to think about my perspective, opinion, and values because I have learned about different world views and personalities through new relationships. My favorite thing about being a Peer Leader is the opportunity it has given me to cross paths with people who I would not have found on my own.

 

Isis Abreu

The Peer Leader role is something that you have to be very passionate about. The most important part to me is the student support we do. We work to make sure that we are helping students with their transition to college and giving them the tools they need to make their transition and first year a smooth ride. If someone is not passionate about taking a lot time out of their lives to focus on others, it is a job that will not come as easy. I am very passionate about relationship building and the well being of those around me. It does not make the job easy, but it does make it worth it to me.

 

Madison Taylor

You have to be self-aware and willing to engage in self-reflection about your experiences, biases, and character, because this job challenges you holistically. You have a lot of autonomy regarding the ways in which you carry out the roles of a Peer Leader, so motivation & creativity and success are positively correlated. College is a trying time, especially for first year students, but Peer Leaders and First Year Experience are here to be an additional network of support, and I am thankful to have been a part of this process.

 

Ezequiel Herrera

What I learned as a Peer Leader is to be a better supportive person by actively listening and providing the best support a individual may need by establishing long lasting active relationships with my students. Its so rewarding to hear all of their accomplishment and having them ask for your opinion during some of their rough times they are going through. One aspect of the job that surprised me is how some students do attach to you and you become extremely close friends! When they are going through a rough spot or something big happens you maybe the first person to hear. That is so special and so meaning fun. Establishing these friendships and helping to cultivate a great first year for my students was my favorite part

 

Josh Underwood

I have truly learned the definitions of the terms selflessness and diversity. Selflessness is possibly the biggest part of the job, and I think it is tested the most during the school year when you will have to be prepared to assist several first-year students with their questions and struggles while also managing your own personal life. The selfless part is so important because this can be a tiring feat, but staying connected to the goal of supporting first-year students in their transition and realizing the positive impact a helping hand can have on someone’s development is amazing to me. I have truly learned so much from the diversity on our staff and from the students in my groups at orientation. I’ve had the chance to interact and learn from others with differing racial, religious, political, socioeconomic, and sexual identities. Meeting so many different people has changed my worldview for the better and has made me feel more connected to different people like never before!

 

Raghad Kodvawala

This job challenges what you think you know. It’ll test your boundaries, challenge your assumptions, help you grow, but it’s also an incredibly difficult job to do at times. When you leave this position I guarantee you will learn so much and you will see the world differently.

 

Shawn Knecht

Being a Peer Leader is an experience unlike any other. The people you will meet will have a lasting impact on who you are and how you go through the world. Know that, because you will put so much into the work you do as a PL, you will get more than you would have expected out of it.

 

Emily Derikito

This is a job where you spend a lot of time helping others so it can sometimes be easy to forget about yourself. So make sure to take time for yourself, do something you enjoy, and practice self-care.

 

Shivani Patel

There is so much I have learned from being a Peer Leader. First, I feel like it has helped me gain new insight about the students that attend Ohio State. Growing up in the Columbus area, I always felt that I had an idea of what Ohio State was but the role of being a Peer Leader has given me a new perspective. I have learned that Ohio State and the college experience is unique to each person. As students explore what college and Ohio State means to them, I truly have seen the value of making connections to other people and resources early. In addition, prior to this job I felt as if I just assumed I knew someone’s story or identity. However, this job has allowed me to learn so much about listening to other’s stories and placing value in their background and experiences. I want to pursue a career where I am around people regularly, and I think this job has shaped me so that I can better understand and support the people I may work with. One of my favorite parts about the job is how genuinely caring the staff is. It has helped me feel connected to Ohio State in ways I thought I never would. I always thought that I was going to college purely for academic reasons, however this role of supporting first-year students has aligned well with my interests and passions. My main advice to give to students to be an effective Peer Leader is to have faith in the first-year students you work with. At such a big school, it is easy to feel lost or disconnected but I think it will go a long way for the first-year student to know what someone else has faith in them and is looking our for them.

 

Kelly Eyers

Apply to be a Peer Leader if you truly have excitement and energy about helping people find their way here at Ohio State. It’s a great way to make a difference in the Buckeye community.

 

Dylan Munson

My love for helping people is what initially drew me to this the Peer Leader role. Being a Peer Leader is a lot more hard work than I thought, but I wouldn’t trade my time in FYE for anything else. I am constantly trying my best to help first-year students feel at home here at Ohio State. I truly love helping them in navigating college life and finding their place on campus.

 

 

Mary Tillman

You don’t have to be the 4.0 GPA, super involved, optimistic, well-rounded Ohio State students to be successful as a Peer Leader. It just takes a real person with real experiences who wants to share their story.

 

Andrew Batarseh

My biggest piece of advice is that I wouldn’t take this job just because it looks good on a resume. Being a Peer Leader requires a lot of time and emotional investment and can be very difficult at times. With this, however, this job has helped me grow in many ways. Through the support of probably the best professional staff team on campus, I’ve gained maturity, time management skills, professionals skills, relationship skills, and much more. All this being said, being a Peer Leader doesn’t require a superhero of a person who has their whole life together. Being a Peer Leader simply requires a person who is invested in supporting students and will carry out that investment with their time and energy.

 

Jillian Channell

The connections you make from this experience are ones that you wouldn’t get anywhere else. My fellow Peer Leaders have become some of my greatest friends and the professional staff are great role models to look up to. I have gained experience in public speaking, professionalism, communication, and much more all while having a ton of fun!

 

Natalie Garrett

When I was first coming to college, I remember how incredibly terrified I was of the unknown. I remember having so many questions and no one to ask them to. One of the most rewarding parts of being a Peer Leader was being able to calm some of those nerves that the incoming first-years had. Knowing that students left orientation no loner feeling nervous, but excited and ready to come to Ohio State, made all of those early mornings worth it.

 

The Raw Truth About Agriculture

When you hear the word “agriculture”, what words or images play in your mind? Perhaps you see an image of a combine plowing through a field. Maybe you think about the acres and acres of corn you see on your drive home. Maybe you think about cowboys, “southern accents”, that one Luke Bryan song, or that one person in your class who always came to school with mud on their boots. These ideas are small fractions of rural agriculture in the modern world.

When I tell people I’m an agriculture major, I usually get a lot of replies backed with stereotypes and assumptions. Most people ask me if I grew up on a farm or if I’m from a “farm town”.  Although I did grow up in rural southern Ohio, I never considered a career in agriculture until a scholarship opportunity nearly fell into my lap my senior year of high school. I was desperate and driven to burst through every open door that would lead me to my dream school- Ohio State. Little did I know that this opportunity would change my life entirely.

Most people transition to college “knowing” what they want to study or exploring the freedom that comes with choosing your major. My agriculture scholarship had restrictions so I was indefinitely locked into the College of Food, Agriculture and Environmental Sciences.  I was scared out of my mind and worried that I wouldn’t enjoy my classes or that I wouldn’t connect with any of my peers. To my surprise, I found a great need in the ag industry that I actually saw myself fulfilling- communication.

I would be lying if I told you that I perfectly molded to my peers. We had some similarities with our involvement in 4-H, but my projects consisted of cooking and scrapbooking, not livestock. Our families both worked with natural resources but my father worked in the lumber industry, not the agricultural industry. My school did not have an FFA program I could be involved in (until my senior year), I was not a 4-H camp counselor, nor did I grow up on a farm. Despite these contrasts that make me feel somehow less experienced, I have come to understand the advantages I have in communicating and analyzing my perspective and other’s perspectives of the ag industry.

I have realized that I do not fit into this perfect, square mold. I cannot morph comfortably into a box shape that confines my opportunities and achievements. But one year later and here I still stand, ready to shatter the glass ceiling that traps the future into oblivion about the raw truth of agriculture. I have found that I am most passionate about breaking the stereotype in a way that inspires other young people to pursue a career in agriculture. I  am passionate about my role as a young women in agriculture. And because I am passionate, I am now confident that agriculture is for me.

Having IT Together

There she is, that girl you always see getting coffee every morning. She is always so put together. She for sure has it together. Or that cute guy you really like, who everyone knows and is really involved at the university. Yup, he has it together. And what about your peer mentor? There is no way they don’t have it together. I mean how could they not? How does everyone have it together, and how can you get in on it? Well I can let you in on a little secret: most people do not have it together and are going through something you know nothing about.

I get it — you want to have it together — but what is “it”? Maybe you want to have it together on social media. Everyone else does. Every time I log onto Instagram, everyone is happy or just getting back from some super cool trip. Maybe you see everyone else has found their very best friends and you don’t have that yet. Or maybe you want to have it together when it comes to your major and career path. You still do not know what it is you want to do for the rest of your life, spring semester is creeping up on us, and you honestly do not know what to do. And I am here to say, that is perfectly okay. We are all on different paths and that is more than alright. There is not just one Ohio State experience, but multiple ways to have your very own experience.

No one knows this better than me.

Ask anyone that knows me and you will find that I constantly feel like I do not have it together. I am a senior and I have no idea what next year is going to look like for me. I have some plans, but none that are official yet by any means. I also fall victim to comparing myself to others. And with social media being relevant in most of our lives, it is an easy thing to do. I see how others are doing, then have the nerve to deem myself successful or not successful just by looking at other people’s post. How could I possibly measure my success off of that? I do not know what others are truly going through. We only see what other people let us see. And like I said, we all have different paths. This is my life to live and I am going to live it the only way I know how.

So maybe I am saying a whole bunch of nothing. Maybe you still do not feel like you have it together. So hopefully this can help: make plans but know plans vary like the wind. You want to have some structure in your life, but do not get too caught up in the details. Make goals and actually follow them. You can write goals down, place them where you will see them, remind yourself of them, but try to have something to work towards. Do not be afraid to try new things and get out of your comfort zone. Find yourself in the process. And lastly, do not forget the little everyday success. Sometimes getting out of bed and going to that 8 am is having it together.

Things might not be going your way now, but trust with effort and hard work it will. And it may not go the way you thought it would, but life will work itself out. But for now, let’s just take one day at a time.

Finding My Community @ tOSU

The Ohio State University was not what I expected both in a positive and negative sense.

Escaping the Brecksville Bubble

I came from a predominantly white high school in Brecksville, Ohio (20 minutes south of Cleveland) where you could count the total number of black students on two hands. People for the most part had similar beliefs, political views, lives and just general outlooks on life. And while I was used to living in that community for most of my life, and was definitely a part of it, I 100% felt sheltered from my identity and often felt I didn’t have a chance to find out what being unapologetically black meant for me. I told myself I’d go to college at a big school like Ohio State to escape the “Brecksville Bubble”, and essentially expose myself to more racial, religious, political, economic and even sexual diversity.

How I Found My Community

I did an early arrival program for the Bell National Resource Center’s (BNRC) Early Arrival Program for African American males. I knew this would be the first time I’d be surrounded by majority (all) black males in an academic setting, and not just at a family event or church setting. One would think I might be nervous being around such a variety of people, but it automatically felt right for me. There was about 50-60 of us who showed up three days early to move in and begin all of the BNRC events. We were split into cohorts of about 8-9 students, and we built relationships on smaller scales at first. We got very close with our groups early on and throughout the first couple of days because of all of the time spent together, but the last day we probably got the closest as we did a campus wide scavenger hunt starting at the ARC, going through West to North to South campus, and then all the way back to the ARC, all by running! It was a competition in which cohorts teamed up and faced each other, and to this day it’s one of my best experiences at Ohio State. I finally had the opportunity to feel unapologetically black and meet people and make friends with people who could relate to me better. Even now our cohort and group still keeps in contact, and I’m close with multiple people from the program.

A Little Wake-Up Call

At this point, my excitement was sky high and I was so ready for the year now that I had developed so many relationships with different types of people. However, I was brought back to some of the realities I would face after I was in the elevator of my residence hall (Park-Stradley) on the regular move-in day. I saw a white mother (you’ll understand why I had to mention her race in a moment) trying to get into the elevator before it closed, and I held it open for her. She said, “Thank you,” but her very next words were, “Oh, so what sports do you play here?” And my reaction to yet another microaggression was…

I said, “Uh…I don’t play any sports here.” and she said, “Oh…so you go to school here?” And I said, “Yes I do,” and she said, “Ok, so you like live here?” and once again I had to say, “Yes I do”. What could be a bigger buzzkill than to have tokenization and microagressions I was used to in high school become the same treatment I received on my first full day of college? Unfortunately, I’ve experienced microaggressions from several other people I met during the time I was here, even from my own roommate.
The lack of racial diversity relative to the size of Ohio State was another unexpected fact. About 6% of the total population is black, a percentage that is mostly made up of women.
There are only about 120 black males per class. That stat seems to be declining each year and is made up of primarily black athletes. This meant that the majority of black males in my class were at the BNRC and that even two classes of black males at a campus of 59,000 couldn’t fill up the seats of an entire lecture hall — a surprising realization for me.

But for that same reason, I became appreciative of an experience like the BNRC. It helped me get connected to Hale Hall and went to Office of Diversity and Inclusion events and allowed me the opportunity to meet other black students and form really strong relationships.Through my current role as a peer leader, as well as other opportunities I’ve taken advantage of on campus, I’ve been exposed to individuals from vastly different backgrounds that my own. These include others from different economic backgrounds, geographic regions, students with vastly different political and religious views, and peers with different sexual orientations and gender identities.  The opportunities I’ve taken advantage of have helped me to find myself and my community here on campus, and made me more holistic and open minded in the process.

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.

 

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.