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!

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.