Self-Reflection Through Self-Expression

You’re about to make it through your first year of college in one piece (knock on wood). That’s a big deal, so give yourself some credit! My freshman year was so opposite of what I envisioned coming out of high school; it was actually one of the most challenging years of my life–socially, academically, psychologically, you name it. Despite the tough times, the real problem was that I–like countless others–tended to push the bad memories off to the side and focus on the good. However, I’ve learned the times I grew the most as a person were the times I was barely holding on. If you look back on the year without rose-colored glasses, you can really discover what worked and what didn’t, helping you to be cognizant of those things the second time through this fall! 

Now, there are many options for self-reflection. The great thing about it is that it’s for yourself, so you can make what you want out of it! Here are a few ideas to get you started:



When people think of self-reflection, journaling is often the first thing that comes to mind. It’s a great way of getting thoughts onto paper and allows a space of unfiltered reflection. If you’re feeling super crazy, you could buy yourself a nice notebook and some sweet pens, too. 


I’m a poet and I didn’t even know it, but I think it’s time I show it.

I’ve recently found poetry to be a really cool way of expressing what I’m feeling in an abbreviated form. The extra attention it takes for word choices and having to think through things like rhyme and rhythm (or not!) helps you to think about what you’re feeling and what you’re trying to say.


“Lose yourself in the music, the moment, you own it, you better never let it go…”

Whether it’s putting sound to poetry, playing your favorite tunes on your favorite instrument, or just indulging in a few emotionally engaging songs, music as the universal language is a fantastic way of expressing and experiencing emotion without ever having to open your eyes!

Visual Art

A picture is worth a thousand words.

Whether you sketch, paint, photograph, etc., a visual representation of what you’ve been experiencing throughout your first year is a powerful way to express your feelings. It’s not an art contest; it’s for your own self-expression, so don’t be too critical on yourself if you aren’t the second coming of Michelangelo!

Whether you had the best year ever, or the worst of all time, reflecting back on it while it’s still fresh in your mind is something that can be helpful, rather than bottling it all up. Expressing yourself in some form can help you to know how to build upon your success this year, but just as important, how to take what you’ve been through and grow and learn from your shortcomings. Once you’ve taken the opportunity to look back and discover where you’ve grown–and need to continue to grow–you can look to the future with confidence that you’re a better version of yourself because of it. 

I recently wrote a poem about my first year struggles and how I dealt with it. If you’re interested, you can check it out here!

Little Known Facts About Better Known Traditions

Whether the climate agrees or not, we’re past the halfway point of November already, and you know what that means? We’re less than a week away from The Game! Being a first-year student in such a spirited community of Buckeyes can be daunting from an academic standpoint, let alone having to learn traditions and other nuances that go into being a Buckeye through and through. Ever wanted to know how a few of these came to be some of the most recognizable traditions in the country? If so, today’s your lucky day!

Buckeye Grove

In a ceremony before the spring game, Buckeye trees are planted in Buckeye Grove for each Ohio State All-American football player from the previous season. Next time you’re over on West Campus, take a walk through the nature! Rumor has it that officials are renaming it “Buckeye Forest” because we have so many trees since WE’RE JUST THAT GOOD! (The last sentence is totally made up…except the part about us being awesome, because we are).

  • The original location of the grove was the southwest corner of the original stadium, but after renovations, the grove moved to its current location between Ohio Stadium, Morrill Tower, and the RPAC
  • Each tree has its own plaque, distinguishing the name of the player whom the tree is dedicated to
  • Since the Urban Meyer era of our football team, after the spring game, the players, coaches and administrators from the losing Scarlet team are in charge of cleaning up and sprucing up the grove as a way to raise the stakes in the spring game and do a good deed at the same time! Classic Urban.

 The “O-H! I-O!” Chant

Nowadays you can shout “O-H!” just about anywhere in Columbus the world and get an “I-O!” in response from some passing stranger. No joke, I was in Guam International Airport a few years back and I jokingly yelled out “O-H!” just for fun. Believe it or not, I got an “I-O”! Moral of the story is that time you’re on a random U.S. territorial island in the middle of the Pacific, give the ol’ O-H a shot, it’s guaranteed to work EVERY time. (Again, last sentence isn’t even close to being true so if you believed it for a second, that’s on you)

O-H-I-O with Big BenEaster Island

  • In 1942, a group of U.S. Navy sailors aboard the USS Lexington in the Pacific Ocean began chanting “O-H-I-O S-T-A-T-E” to the tune of “Row, Row, Row Your Boat.” Several of those displaced Buckeye fanatics returned to Ohio and enrolled at Ohio State in the fall of 1946.
  • One of them, Matthew Sidley, joined the cheerleading squad the following autumn. On Nov. 1, 1947, during a losing effort against Indiana, Sidley decided to teach the “O-H-I-O S-T-A-T-E” cheer to fans at Ohio Stadium.
  • The full nine-letter chant proved too difficult for the student body to keep up, so they eventually settled on chanting “O-H-I-O” and leaving it at that.
  • Apparently the cheer was so energizing to the players that 1947 OSU linebacker Dick Flanagan called it “…a turning point in Ohio State football.”
  • The cheer squad tried to bring back the original “O-H-I-O S-T-A-T-E” chant in 1982, but apparently a conglomerate of higher education individuals couldn’t wrap their head around spelling OHIO STATE to the tune of Row, Row, Row Your Boat. SMH.
  • The sailors who invented the “O-H-I-O” chant also created the hand symbols that have become a global phenomenon. Much creativity. Such wow.

 “Carmen Ohio”

Singing Carmen has got to be my favorite Buckeye tradition. The sense of pride swaying and singing along with 100,000 of your closest friends is almost indescribable! If you haven’t gotten the opportunity to check out a home football game yet, I highly recommend doing so even if you aren’t a football fan!

  • “Carmen” means song in Latin, so the title literally translates to “Song of Ohio”
  • “Carmen Ohio” is the oldest song still in use at Ohio State
  • Carmen was first performed by the Glee Club in 1903 after freshman four-letter athlete and Glee Club singer Fred Cornell re-wrote the lyrics to the tune of Christian H Bateman’s hymn “Come Christians, Join To Sing”.
  • Some say Cornell wrote the song on the train ride home after our Buckeyes suffered a brutal 86-0 loss to TTUN. Never again.
  • Carmen is sung after every single sporting event, win, lose, or draw!
  • In 1927, then band director Jack Evans and arranger Richard Heine adapted the song for the marching band to play and added the sound of the chimes from the Orton Hall bells as its intro

 Script Ohio

I’ve seen TBDBITL perform many a time in my days here at Ohio State, but every time they march out there, it mesmerizes me how perfect Script Ohio is! There’s a reason why it’s been called “The Greatest Tradition in College Football” In my opinion, there’s no way it doesn’t crack the top 10 greatest college traditions PERIOD. It’s definitely a sight to behold each and every time the Ohio State Marching Band takes the field.

  • The first marching band to form the word Ohio on a football field was actually *!ch!&an’s marching band! In 1932, those guys visited Ohio Stadium, and spelled out ‘OHIO’ during their halftime show
  • The famous Script Ohio made its debut four years later, on Oct. 10, 1936 at Ohio State’s football game against Pittsburgh. Band director Eugene J. Weigel had the idea for the formation after seeing the looping script Downtown at Loew’s Ohio Theatre

Each and every year, the last couple weeks of college football’s regular season gets me so excited (and not just because it means turkey and gravy). Being a part of something bigger than yourself is something that I believe is so important in everyone’s lives, and we all are so fortunate to have the opportunity to be Buckeyes at THE Ohio State University!

Getting off the struggle bus

For the past few months, much of what you’ve heard from Peer Leaders is GET INVOLVED. TIME MANAGEMENT. CAMPUS RESOURCES. To be honest, even Peer Leaders need to take the time to get our lives on campus right, because trust me when I tell you that we’re nowhere NEAR perfect. I’ve had the pleasure of studying architecture during my time here at Ohio State. When you hear about architecture you probably think about 1 of 2 things:

  1. How time intensive it is. Don’t you, like, live in Knowlton? It’s literally the number one question I get when I mention what I’m majoring in, and with good reason. Having a 4.5 hour studio class three times a week will do that to you. I LOVE what I do though, and I couldn’t be happier with it.
  2. Ted Mosby from How I Met Your Mother. Enough said.


Like many of you, classes take up a good chunk of my time. Bring in work at First Year Experience and my involvement with my church on campus and I’ve got little to no time to really do anything else! When things are going right, having such a busy schedule works out great for me as I’m at my best when I’m really productive. It’s when tough times outside of school and work come up like they have in recent weeks that it feels like the wheels could easily fly off of the proverbial wagon that is my life. There’s a fine line between being busy and chaotic, so when things aren’t going my way, life definitely moves closer to that side of the spectrum, especially without people who can share in your experiences. I’m really fortunate to have such a strong support system, but even if that isn’t there for you I’m here to share a few things that have really helped me to keep on keeping on when times get rough.

Self reflection

I tend to find it much easier to put off problems until they disappear. Recently though, I’ve gained such an appreciation for self-reflection when it comes to dealing with things going on in my life. I found it super helpful just listening to my favorite songs whenever I could, mostly to get my mind off of things, but also to put me in a frame of mind to be able to figure out what was going on in my life. Whether it’s journaling or just getting some alone time, self-reflection is a really great way to be able to not only face these matters head on, but also to begin thinking about ways to resolve or move on from them.

Talk about it!

After taking the time to sort my thoughts, getting the opportunity to talk with someone about what’s going on in my life was the most therapeutic thing that I ended up doing to help me move forward. One of the other Peer Leaders, Caitlin, was kind enough to lend a listening ear for me. Lots of us talk with our friends about things going on in life to hopefully gain some encouragement or insight of what to do, but in all honesty, the most helpful part was just the fact that she was there for me. Find that listening ear; whether it’s your roommate, RA, classmate, or whomever, speaking your mind to someone is so important.

(Some of you may not have anyone that you’re quite comfortable doing that with here on campus, so I’d encourage you to reach out to a Peer Leader, yours or otherwise. We’re all about helping you, and we’d be more than happy to be that listening ear for you! My email is included below, and I’d be more than happy to either be that person for you or connect you with another Peer Leader on staff if you’d like!)

Push through

The most important part about the process of getting through a rough patch is just that, getting through the rough patch. For me, if it wasn’t for the courage to face those issues head on, and the support of those around me, there’s a good possibility that I’d be stuck in the negative frame of mind that I was in, and I would’ve fallen so far behind in school and at work that it would’ve been an uphill battle from there on out. Of course, all of my life’s problems aren’t resolved as of today, but knowing that I’m more than capable of getting through some of the most difficult few weeks that I’ve been through (so far) is something that I’ll be able to take with me for the rest of my life.

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