Perfectionism as a First-Year Student

Reflecting on my first year at Ohio State, I have very little negative things to say about my experience. As a theatre major I added three credits to my resume, and I made it into my second major, journalism. I even finished the year with a 4.0 GPA. I was selected to be in a black male leadership round-table, and I became an FYE Peer Leader. While all of these things appear to be wonderful accomplishments, which they are, they came at a price. These accomplishments were in part fueled by my perfectionism, and eventual fed my perfectionism.

Many people when deeming themselves perfectionist the term usually has more of a positive connotation. Perfectionism often breeds hard workers, good work, and often to an extent, good leaders. However, perfectionism can be dangerous to one’s wellbeing. I know personally, I was willing to sacrifice my mental, emotional, and especially my physical health to accomplish my goals. If a job needed to be done it would get done, regardless of what I ate or how much sleep I got. My first semester, I did not care to reach out and meet new friends or even develop close relationships with my roommates. I wanted to be excellent in my work, that is what was important.

Indeed, one does come to college to get an education first, but that is not all that matters. I truly believe people cannot be their best selves without considering their overall well being. Eventually this would take a toll on how I felt, and by the time a break approached it would often become very difficult to follow through with my work. However, maintaining greater attention toward my health, rather than my desire for excellence, could have made my first year a much more enjoyable experience. I found this out my second-year. When I began to loosen my obsession on perfection and payed closer attention to my health, I saw things change. I don’t just operate throughout my life. I enjoy my life.

I write this to make people aware of the students who work really hard and seem fine but may be on an unhealthy path. If you are reading this or know someone like this, I hope you have the courage to do one of the following actions: reflect on your practices and make changes where you see fit or talk with your friend or student just to make sure they are maintaining a healthy well being. Wellness is just as important, if not more important than excellence.

How to Climb Your Staircase

“Time and Change will surely show.”

A line from our amazing school song, Carmen Ohio. I have recently been reflecting on my time here at Ohio State. I’m nearing a full two-years & time sure has shown a lot of change. At 18 I came in wanting to be a doctor because I liked the medical field. I would be able to provide for myself and because, c’mon, it sounds great saying that you’re a doctor. However, time showed that despite what I thought, I didn’t have my life figured out quite yet.

Full disclosure: I’m a goal-oriented person that loves to have a plan, yet my master plan wasn’t planning out (see what I did there). It was very hard and kind of scary to be in a place where you’re not 100% sure what you want to do with your life. Everyone says “it’s college! It’s the time to make mistakes and not have it all figured out.” Yet I was terrified because I didn’t want to take classes that wouldn’t help me graduate because my financial aid only covers four years. I thought I needed to figure it all out. However, in my reflection upon my almost two full years as a Buckeye, I’m starting to realize it’s okay to not know.

A professor of mine recently said, “if you don’t know ask, otherwise it’ll always be confusion.” Yet, sometimes when you ask you still can’t find the answer.

In reflecting on what you’ve done so far, you might realize you have the answers to questions from the past. Sometimes the answer is something only your future self can answer because it hasn’t fully panned out yet (and yes, I know I’m sounding a bit like the ending to a classic teen/young adult movie).

But in all seriousness, I don’t know what my future holds. And it’s scary to not know when everyone tells you how important this time in your life is. Quoting a great scholar (Lauren A. Nelson, myself lol) everyone’s staircases are different. Some people have fewer steps and some people have 1,000. Some people take years to climb theirs and others are done in a week. My point is to take time to enjoy your ascent up your staircase. You don’t have to know exactly what’s at the next floor, it’s okay to go back down a few steps in order to continue moving up, and it’s okay to be scared. Yet be sure to take a look back because the staircase will definitely show how it’s changed over time. You’d be surprised — steps I thought I’d never climb, I’ve blown past. Sometimes I hop back down a couple steps and have to get back up. But when I graduate, the person I am at the top of my staircase will be because I was brave enough to take the next step, even when I didn’t know what it held.

Keep Climbing Y’all,

PL Lauren Nelson

Are you really having conversations right?

We live in a world of controversy.  It’s all around us and it is inevitable. Too many times, people have “conversations” that are entirely unproductive. After years of social media and avoiding important topics, genuine dialogue can be a rare find in our world. Odds are, your job after graduation will require you to have difficult dialogue with other people. In order to get the most out of difficult conversations, you have to think critically about your approach to such interactions. Here are some questions you may want to ask yourself:


  1. Were you on your phone?

That’s right. If you want to have a meaningful conversation with someone, it will require putting down your smartphone. Social media can wait, and if you’re on your phone, you’re automatically not fully engaged in the conversation.

  1. Did you ask questions?

Were you actively trying to understand the other person’s point of view? Too many times, we have interactions in which we’re too focused on what we’re going to say next, and we miss important parts of what the other person is saying.

  1. Did you question yourself at all?

At any point in the conversation did you ask yourself: Could I be wrong about this? Is there a chance that the person I’m engaging with might have more relevant experience than me? I’m not saying you have to change your opinion, but if no one is ever willing to question their own viewpoints, a conversation will never be productive.

  1. Did you learn something?

“Everyone you ever meet knows something that you don’t.” ~Bill Nye

If you leave a conversation thinking that the other person has absolutely no knowledge or perspective to offer, you’re probably not listening. You don’t have to agree with everything they say, but you should be able to leave a conversation having gained some piece of perspective.


Overall, it’s always important to ask yourself if you’re really listening. Stephen Covey said “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand. Most people listen with the intent to reply.” He further challenges people to “Seek first to understand, then to be understood”. This is an incredibly difficult skill to master. Challenge yourself to do so. It will make your interactions and relationships so much more valuable, and you will become a better person for it.

Imposter Syndrome: Am I a Fraud?

As a college student at a prestigious university, it is common for people to automatically think of you as a naturally smart, brilliant student. You hear things like, “Well you got into The Ohio State University, so you must be smart!” These phrases are especially common among students in majors that are infamously difficult, like engineering, any type of science, and so many more. When I tell people that I’m a math major, they often respond with, “Wow, you must be so smart!” or “I could never do that!” People assume that I am some sort of genius. What they don’t know is that I don’t feel like a genius at all. Hell, I don’t even feel smart. And neither do a lot of the people who receive these types of comments. People assume that if you are in hard major, it’s easy for you and you get As in all of your classes and don’t struggle at all. Truth is, I got a C- in my first math course that I took at OSU. Often times, this leaves me feeling like a fraud. Everyone thinks that I’m so smart, but I don’t feel smart. Am I lying to them? Letting them believe something that isn’t true? Do I even deserve to be here? If you relate to any of these feelings of inadequacy, you may be experiencing something called Imposter Syndrome.

What is imposter syndrome? Imposter syndrome is characterized by an inability to internalize accomplishments and a persistent fear of being exposed as a “fraud.” It is extremely common among college students, and is often not talked about. But constantly second guessing all of your accomplishments and questioning your worthiness can have a severe impact on your mental health, and can lead to anxiety and/or depression. This is why imposter syndrome is important to be addressed, and it is important to realize that you are most definitely not the only one feeling this way. Imposter syndrome is something that can be overcome, and below I will list some tips and techniques I found from an article ( to overcome imposter syndrome and embrace everything that you deserve.

  1. Accept that you’ve had some role in your successes. You feel like a fraud because you believe that everything you did to get you where you are today was just pure luck, or chance. But it’s important to realize that you did do something to get you where you are. You wrote all the application essays, you passed all the necessary classes (even if barely), and you said yes to things when you could have said no. You got to where you are today based on your own decisions, not just chance. And that’s pretty freakin awesome.
  2. Remember: being wrong doesn’t make you a fake. The best basketball players miss most of the shots they take. Making mistakes and messing up sometimes doesn’t mean that all of your achievements have been fraudulent, or that you don’t deserve to be where you are. It just means that you’re human. Nobody is perfect, and it’s important that you don’t expect yourself to be either.
  3. Take action. Being actively aware of the negative thoughts that you are having and the impact that they are having on you can go a long way in not letting them have such a strong impact. Facing those thoughts and saying, “you know what, screw you, I’ve worked damn hard to get where I am today,” can be a powerful tool in overcoming imposter syndrome. Recognizing those self-doubting thoughts and stopping them in their tracks is a great way to take your confidence back.
  4. Find one person you can say, “I feel like a fraud” to. This can actually be really helpful, especially when the thoughts that are leading you to believe you are a fraud tend to be a bit irrational. Expressing this thought to another person and receiving their input, probably on how you are absolutely not a fraud, can be a huge help.
  5. Sometimes faking things actually does work. Ever heard of the phrase “fake it till you make it”? Everyone does it! No one knows everything about everything, so sometimes you just gotta fake it till you know enough. This does not at all make you a fraud. It makes you normal. It makes you eager to learn more and gives you a place to sit while you get there.

These tips may not be a cure-all for imposter syndrome, but I think they can be useful in leading to healthier thinking. Nobody knows what they are doing, and everyone doubts themselves sometimes. But it’s important to take credit for the accomplishments that you do make, and to learn to believe in yourself through times of strife. You will be ok. You are not a fraud, and you deserve to be here.


Counseling and Consultation Services:
Dennis Learning Center:
Career Counseling and Support Services:



Identity struggles (A little inspiration from watching Super Bowl 52)

At the time I started writing this blog post, I was also getting ready to watch Super Bowl 52 (only the third Super Bowl I have ever watched) and that brings back memories for me. Watching the Super Bowl prompted me to think about how I spent the past 2 and a half years – what I’ve accomplished and whether I am proud of who I am after all this.

I’ve done a lot of things in my life. Some good, some bad, and some just straight up stupid. I decided to come to Ohio State (which turned out to be the best decision I have ever made). I decided to tell people that I’m from Cincinnati instead of Taiwan (which now I really regret). I decided to offer to buy this person behind me ice cream at Jeni’s. And I’ve decided to spend 10 hours watching 3 previous Ohio State football games on YouTube during finals week. I think you know which category those decisions go into.

To me, football isn’t just some sport that people watch. To me, football is what connected me with American culture. Before I came to Ohio State, all of my knowledge about football came from the movie, The Blind Side, and I had no idea that Ohio State even had a football team. During the first game of the 2015 season against Virginia Tech, some upperclassmen in my learning community hosted a watch party in their room. I went because I thought I wouldn’t have anything to talk about the next day if I didn’t go (I mean, I still had nothing to talk about even after I went because I couldn’t understand anything). My friend Alex Steitz was sitting next to me during that game and I told him that I knew nothing about football. He started explaining every single thing to me despite me understanding only about 2% of what he said. Little did he know, that was one of the first times I really felt welcomed here. We started to watch every OSU away game together and he would teach me more and more about football. I fell in love with the sport. I’ve been thinking about my identities and why I do certain things. It makes me think that the reason I love football so much is partly that it is where I found a friendship early on and partly that I think that it makes me more “American.”

Through my two and a half years at Ohio State, a lot has changed in my life and that caused me to constantly think about how my identity is changing. Yet, I was never able to really step back and say “Yeah, that is an accurate representation of me!” Even now I still don’t know what defines me and what I really identify with. In all the thinking I did, one thing really stood out to me: I’ve always been reluctant to tell people that I am an international student. Being an international student can have come negative connotations and it can mean certain restrictions for me legally and culturally. Every time when I have a conversation with someone and then they ask me where I am from, I have two choices: I can either be honest and say that I am from Taiwan, or I can “lie” and say I’m from Cincinnati because I’ve stayed with my Cousin in Cincinnati for a summer.

I’m proud of being a Taiwanese individual but all the “standard” follow-ups really exhaust me. The common response is usually “Wow, you speak English really well! I would’ve never guessed you’re not from the states.” And sometimes when the individual is interested in world politics, I would get asked “What do you think of the political struggle between China and Taiwan?” For the former, I understand that they are trying to give a genuine compliment but hearing it over and over again really frustrates me and made me not want to proactively say that I’m from Taiwan. For the latter, I’m a very non-confrontational and yet patriotic person, I will state my view and then try to steer the conversion away from that topic. But if I say that I’m from Cincinnati, the response I get is “Oh! This Ohio weather, right?” In this case, telling the alternative actually made my conversation a lot easier and a lot more “American”.

Most students at Ohio State don’t know that International students have a very different orientation than they did. Most students don’t know that international students are usually the last ones that schedule for classes for their first semester. Most students don’t know that international students are treated very differently than domestic students because of all the regulations and “initiatives.” I’d love to speak up for international students but there’s really not many ways of doing so. I’d love to help international students integrate with domestic students but there are not a whole lot of resources to make this possible. I’d love to see more international students represented in Ohio State community but I’ve only heard from domestic students that international students are part of the population that makes Ohio State more diverse. These constant downsides have made me not want to proactively identify myself as an international student. But now, I want to use this identity as an advantage.

Most of the time when we hear someone’s motivational story, when we hear how someone overcame their struggle, we think “Wow, that really inspires me” or “Wow, if they can overcome that, I think I can overcome my challenges, too!” It’s just like thinking “If the Eagles can win a Super Bowl with a backup QB, I can conquer this upcoming thing.” It’s not a bad thing to be inspired by a story, but we have to recognize that these stories are only being told because the struggle was overcome. How about those who are still struggling? How about those who are still having a tug-of-war with their destiny? I’ve met a lot of people and I’ve told a lot of story with an ending. But now, I want to start telling a story without an ending. I still struggle with acknowledging my identities, but I’m working on being proud of being an international student. I don’t want my identity to define me, but I don’t want to throw them in trash and ship it to landfill. Because even though I don’t think these things define me, they are a part of me. And it’s not about how these things make me who I am, it’s about how I want to use these things to empower me. I don’t know where this will take me or what this will bring me. But I know…


I am Willy.

Why Should I Care?

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
Martin Niemöller (1892–1984)

Although this poem was written over a century ago, the message translates through time.  Niemoller wrote this about the complicity of Germans and their silence towards the Nazi persecution of millions of people.  Take a moment to reflect on how the meaning of this poem might change if you replaced ‘socialist’, ‘trade unionist’ or ‘Jew’ with any marginalized identity in America.

Complicity can be just as bad as active action.  Recall those anti-bullying campaigns we all went through in elementary school.  There is the bully-the one taking action, the victim-the one negatively affected, and the bystander-the one who sees injustice, but stays silent.  We all know the consequences of the bystander affect: everyone thinks that someone else will do or say something, and in the end, nothing is done at all.  The bystander is complicit in the injustice by staying silent.  That affect goes much further than a high school bully, however.

Consider the ways in which not only people, but institutions, policies, and media bully and neglect people of marginalized identities. Just focusing on one identity isn’t enough though. All identities intersect. There’s race, sex, gender, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, ability, language, citizenship, religion, and more. If you don’t recognize the affects of any of these, you may be complicit in your privilege.

Awareness of your own privileges are the first step in taking action.  For me, this means using my whiteness to advocate for people of color, using my economic status to advocate for low income populations, and my citizenship status to advocate for immigrants and refugees.  I recommend choosing to give up an easy, complicit life style for one of advocacy and speaking up for those who can’t.

Don’t know where to start? Start with a google search ‘inequality in America’, ‘problems facing diverse populations’, and ‘the affects of privilege’ are some good starting points.  Explore the Multicultural Center in the Ohio Union or Hale Hall on south campus.  Go to a Pride meeting and just listen. In a few days, Black History Month will begin and there are more than enough options for presentations, Ted Talks, and events focused on Black history and pride. Educate yo’self.

Eventually, if you don’t start to care and speak up, there will be no one left to speak for you.


How to find your Purpose at OSU

Before we can talk about how to find your purpose at OSU, we have to think about how to find your overall purpose.

Image result for passion venn diagramHere is a chart with questions to consider when trying to find your purpose. It is really the balance between all of the above items that can tell you where your purpose lies.

Lets talk about how these work together

Ask yourself what you love doing. This could be a hobby or something you love to think about. A passion can be something that you have to work on, something you have to learn. For me it is social justice. Social justice is more than treating people fairly, it is about understanding social structures and how they oppress people. That is not something that I was born knowing, I had to spend time learning and still have learning to do.Figuring this out is very hard but it is very important and it is worth the struggle. By following your passion and letting that be the main thing that influences your decisions, everything else will fall into place. If you use your passion as your foundation, you will be able to find a profession that you love, a vocation that will never seem too big, and a mission that you will always want to work on. The reason that your passion can impact so much is because it is based in your happiness. When you are doing what makes you happy, everything else falls into place because happiness is the biggest motivator.

It is important to keep in mind that, in my opinion, there is no ONE thing that we are meant to do. There are many jobs that I could do that could fulfill my purpose. Finding what you love —  the thing that fuels your passion, the thing that you have to incorporate into every part of your life — that is your purpose and can manifest in your life in many different ways. It effects the people you hold close, the activities you do, and it can put you in a career that you love. Basing your actions on your purpose and passions will lead you down a path that introduces you to the best people you will ever meet, the best job you’ve ever had, and the best life that you could think of.

What to do at OSU to figure out what your passions are

  • The most important thing is to figure out what you love and how to incorporate that into your life. Keeping your major and passion separate could stop you from pursuing something that makes you happy. Figure out how your major fits into it or if there is a major that fits with your passion.
  • Take Action. Once you figure out your passion, get involved in organizations where you can do work in something you love and gain some experience, knowledge, and understanding of what it takes to do work in that field.
  • Always keep what you love in mind.

These are some things I have done that led me to find my purpose, and my life is a lot better for it. It will help you understand what you need to work towards and give you the motivation to go far at OSU and in life.

The Powers of Reflection

Congratulations! You have successfully made it to your second semester here at Ohio State. And now that syllabus week is over, the work begins.

I had a rough first semester at OSU. I didn’t have many friends, I didn’t want to admit to my parents that I was having a hard time, and I didn’t do well in classes. I ended up skipping classes to watch Netflix and sleep in and rarely left my residence hall. I ate a ton, did no homework and didn’t study and I ended up coming home for winter break 20 pounds heavier with a terrible GPA. Luckily, I had wonderful parents who, although disappointed, did their best to help me move forward instead of dwelling on the past. We spent a lot of time that winter break trying to figure out what went wrong and how to help me get back on track; and through that experience I learned how amazingly powerful reflection could be. I went into my second semester with a new outlook and ended it with a 3.5 semester GPA.

You have all more or less successfully completed a full semester at OSU and believe it or not you are now a veteran! You now have a pretty good idea of the in’s and out’s of college so why not put some of that knowledge to use? You will do so much better this semester if you take the time and space to reflect on what went right and what went wrong.

I have a little reflection activity (it takes about 30 minutes) that I want to share with you. I’ve started, weekly, going out by myself to eat or putting on some background music and lighting a candle in my room and just thinking. Below I’ve written out a way that you can engage in a similar activity that helps with mindfulness and goal-setting.

Reflection Activity:

Think back to the first days on the Ohio State campus: moving into the dorm rooms, meeting new faces, your parents moving your stuff into your dorm room. Remember how your room looked when you first stepped in. And how it looked when you were done with it. Remember saying goodbye to your parents, and spending the night with your new friends and roommates.

Fast forward through Welcome Week: all of the activities, the whirlwind of people, the cheers, the crowds, getting used to campus.

Now it’s the first days of classes: remember rushing to find your first class, pulling out the Maps app on your phone to find Arps Hall. Remember returning to your room at the end of the day exhausted but satisfied because at least you now know where your classes are.

Keep going fast-forwarding through your semester, letting your mind snag on the important parts, dwell on them a little before moving on. Try writing some of those moments down to remember them. Remember the good things and the bad things. Continue until you finally get to winter break. Imagine all of the things that went right last semester. What did you do well? When was your first success? How can you keep that up this semester? Write this stuff down.

What went wrong? What did you improve? What could you have done better in? What do you need to change? What can you do to improve? Write. It. Down.

Now look and think about everything you just wrote and thought about. What goals do you have for this semester that could hit on those points you just wrote down? Write those down and put them on your phone or hang them in your room.

Those are your goals for this semester.

Join the PL Family!

Each year we hire an amazing team of Peer Leaders and we would love for you to consider applying to be a part of the family!

Check out this awesome video made by our own PL Logan Woodyard (lovingly known as PLogan) which highlights a lot of the memories that the FYE Peer Leaders have created this year.

Interested in applying? Applications are due January 31st! 

Still not sure?

Attend an information session and learn more about being a Peer Leader:

Thursday, Jan. 18
4-7 p.m.
Ohio Union, Spring Involvement Fair

Monday, Jan. 22
3 p.m.
Student Academic Services Building, Room 281

Tuesday, Jan. 23
12 p.m.
Ohio Union, Multicultural Center Alonso Family Room


Fresh Starts and New Beginnings.

New year, new me. Right?

Okay okay, so maybe this saying is overused and more of a joke at this point, but let’s talk about what it really means. It is so easy for people turn their noses to the idea of a new year’s resolution and regard it as a non-committal way of making yourself feel better without actually changing anything. I’m sure you have seen the “new year, new me” jokes on twitter.

But what is so wrong with wanting a fresh start? If you need a symbolic clean slate to start making those changes in your life that you have always wanted to, then by all means take that clean slate and change! There is no shame in wanting to be the best you that you can be and there is no shame in using the new year to do that.

“So how does this apply to the experience of being a first year student?” you may ask.

College is a long process of trial and error experiences. As a first year student, I went into my first semester having some grand expectations of what how life was to be, how my academic performance would be, and how my social life was go to play out. Needless to say,  I came out of my first semester with the realization that my expectations were incredibly wrong. I am sure many of you know exactly that feeling.

Well I am here welcome you back to OSU, and to second semester! There is no better time to take what you have learned about your OSU experience, and build off of that. Don’t like how you studied last semester? Commit to making that change this year! Found way too much free time on your hands? Commit to joining a student org this year! The possibilities are literally endless. Take what you learned last semester and use this fresh start to grow from it. I encourage you to make those new year’s resolutions and go out there and be that new you.