My Sophomore year of college will go down in my memory as one of the hardest, if not the hardest year of my life thus far. Filled with ups and downs, but majorly downs and hard-earned ups, I learned a lot about my position in school and my state outside of the classroom. For the sake of clarity and promptness, I have narrowed down this last school year into three categories: a state of discovery, a period of adversity, and a final shift into a new era of growth for myself as a student and person.
I began the school year with a lot of optimism and excitement, but I quickly got caught up in the social, and less academic pursuits of Ohio State. It felt more like I was constantly following my social passions rather than attending school, and my first semester grades reflected this truth. I remember specifically a night in October, after spending all night at the library and returning home around 2am, calling my mom the next morning and relating to her how it had finally sunk in that I was back at school – that I was at this institution where I was given the ability to learn without restraint. I was dissapointed in myself for forgetting the most important aspect of college – academics – in the last months prior, as I had focused more on the extracurricular and social life. From that night on, I devoted much more of my attention to my studies, albeit I was behind on some classes due to my previous lack of focus. As November rolled around, I found myself again losing attention in some of my courses, and I began to question whether it was really a question of my own ability to focus, or the material I was attempting to digest.
One of my core business classes, an introductory course, assigned a project to us at the beginning of the semester and required a presentation in class during November. The project was based on personal preference: you had to choose a “dream” company to work for, and then relate to the class why you had chosen the company and the basic statistics, infrastructure, and goals of the organization. At the time, I did not delve too deep into the meaning of the project, choosing a company I would obviously love to work for some day, Sony Entertainment Group.
Everyone who is somewhat close to me (or at least follows me on some social media platforms) knows that I have a huge obsession with pop culture and entertainment, but more specifically, music. I was so interested in the backgrounds of various artists, the reasons certain types of genre and artistic styles were favored by public opinion, the future of music itself… the topic was already riveting to me, so why not base a project on it? As the project snowballed, so did my interest in it, and I devoted a lot of attention to it even amongst my friends.
So, when I was walking with my friend Nyomi one night to the gas station, when the topic of classes came up I did not hesitate to describe to her the project I was working on. After the explanation, she promptly responded:
“So what are you going to do in the music industry? What’s the position you would want?”
I remember distinctly feeling so dumbfounded by the question – why did she come to the conclusion that I would actually work in the industry? Was that not an absurd prospect? My mind instantly rebelled against the thought, that I could possibly be in a position doing exactly what I love doing.
I looked back at her and said awkwardly that I was planning on going into consulting following school, that I just chose Sony as the company because I thought it would make the project more interesting, instead of choosing a company that I might actually work for. As I spoke to her, I heard the doubt in my own voice, and felt the sad counterintuitive standard that I was carrying. For years I had offered advice to others about following their dreams, and here I was, limiting my own goals for what I deemed personally ill-advised. It struck me immediately – what had made me restrain myself and my hopes so? Before she could respond to my admission, I corrected myself:
“You’re right – I could actually work with music couldn’t I? I mean I love it so much, and I already spend my free time consuming it, what could I achieve if I devoted my life to it?”
Nyomi, only hearing what was outside my head, understood little of the revelation I was having, but was happy to help in my life goals. The next day I followed through on my promise to myself: I switched my major from Finance to Marketing, as I believed it more useful in the entertainment industry, and added a minor to my plan in Music, Media, & Enterprise; I quickly also started my own website and blog devoted to trends and characteristics of the music industry. Soon after I secured my first position (of hopefully many) in the industry as an intern for Prime Social Group, a marketing and event management company based in Columbus. These events occurred over the course of my late first semester, but they encapsulate the “discovery” portion of my year. My sophomore year will always be the year that I turned a corner in my professional career; I not only would make a huge change in my occupational goals and path, but I would allow myself the freedom to follow a love and dream of mine.
Adversity was another characteristic of the year. I was met with many challenges in trying to control different aspects of my life and school, of which many I had no control, and struggled in response. One aspect that was especially difficult was in my transition to President of my sorority. As a 19 year old, and one of the youngest members of my sorority of 200 women, the position in itself would have been very challenging to assume; however, the unhealthy and tense Greek environment on campus made it much more difficult and time consuming. The responsibility of watching over my chapter became my first priority, above my social life, my education, and my well being. Soon, those three began to suffer in response. Although I put a lot of attention on my grades, as I knew they would slip due to my other commitments if I did not, I still performed lower than my potential. Moreover, my emotional and mental health deteriorated, and I failed to recognize the danger in losing that good condition. Although I knew my social life was also taking a blow, I did not realize the ultimate effects that this type of blow would have on my overall well-being; thus, Sophomore year was also a year of adversity, as I grappled with transitioning and maintaining my priorities.
My chapter in particular was undergoing a lot of changes and difficulties that were particular to it, and I felt hard-pressed to get the help from a majority of my members that I needed. Whether this was due to my young age and experience in the chapter, or just a lack of interest from the members in general, I was, and am still, unaware, but it made my position much harder, and any accomplishments much more far-fetched.
Members of my chapter during recruitment
Near the end of the year, I was able to make great strides in my chapter as President when I settled disciplinary measures with the school’s Office of Student Conduct, and put my chapter back on the right track in the still-tumultuous Greek community. I was hopeful at the end of the year that things would get better my next semester as President, and that my hard work and undeniable sacrifices (of my own well-being) would merit more cooperation from my members.
Going into next year, I am confident and very hopeful that I was correct back in May, that this year will indeed boast better tides for my chapter and for the Greek community at Ohio State. Regardless, my year of adversity taught me a lot about the need for clear and consistent priorities; I learned that nothing should come before my own health and mental stability, and that friends, family, and school, should also come before a position in an organization.
Lastly, last year was a time of growth for myself and my aspirations. As previously mentioned, it was a year of discovering what I wanted to invest my time in, and a year of struggling against adverse priorities for the healthiest alternative. In result, it was ultimately a year of growth due to these other characteristics; I grew into a stronger candidate, a more confident leader, a better time-manager, and developed a very resilient attitude. The hardship and change of Sophomore year was very difficult at the time, and quite an adjustment due to my tendency to calculate my entire future, but it resulted in a much-improved me, and I see that as the silver lining to the hardships. My experiences last year shaped the person I am today, and give me the perspective to tackle new challenges in my future.
I am very excited for what is to come in the next year.