Being a Resilient Student

Whether it’s your first year or your fifth year, you’re most likely going to experience some type of obstacle during your time at Ohio State that affects you academically, financially, emotionally, physically, or all of the above. Being able to overcome these types of challenges is a crucial part of being a student and individual. Resiliency and learning to advocate for myself was the theme of my first year, and the experiences, successes, and challenges I endured allowed me to grow and learn so much about myself.

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Being a resilient student could mean something different to every person. To me, being a resilient student means that in the face of obstacle – a failing grade, a homework assignment you forgot, or something entirely unrelated to academics – you’re able to advocate for yourself, overcome, and continue. Resiliency is being able to ask for help, use your resources, and having an open mindset to overcome your challenges.

When approached with a new challenge in college, having a “growth mindset” guided me. It was incredibly easy to view failures and average grades with a fixed mindset, being stuck in as negative of a space as possible; I would blame myself for not being productive and successful and stay stuck in a cloud of worry, which only distracted me from what I needed to do, which in return worried me more, and the cycle would continue. Teaching myself to have a growth mindset (which took a lot of practice) that could let me view challenges as learning and growth opportunities and in a slightly more positive light would at the very least allow me to shift my perspective and not spiral into worry. Image result for growth mindset

If faced with an unexpected obstacle during your first year, remember that you are capable of advocating for yourself. There’s most likely someone on campus who can help you with whatever you are going through, or who can direct you to someone else who can help. So many of my problems during my first year could have been solved or reduced by asking for help. Being able to ask for help during these periods of struggles is one of the largest components of resiliency and a form of self-advocacy; use what you have available to help you.

It’s important to remember why you’re here at Ohio State and how capable and worthy you are of success. Use that as motivation to continue through those obstacles while studying here, and the skills you learn along the way will allow you to be a more open-minded, aware, and resilient person.

You’re Not Alone in Feeling Alone

“Get involved! Leave your door open the first few weeks! Find your lifelong friends!”

Sound familiar? Coming into college, I figured it would be easy to make friends. On a campus with over 50,000 people, it couldn’t be too difficult to find a handful of close friends, right? I certainly didn’t think so, but it ended up being harder than I expected. If you had idealistic expectations like me, you probably fell into some of the traps I did. For example:

You assume your roommates are going to become your close friends. When you’re trapped in a confined space with other people, you think you’ll end up spending so much time together and inevitably become BFFs. Unfortunately, this usually isn’t the case. If you end up with roommate(s) who you really click with, that’s great! If you don’t, that’s pretty normal. With so many people at one school, it’s unrealistic to expect that the people you happen to live with will become your closest friends.

You expect the first people you meet in a student organization to become your close friends. You go to the involvement fair, find the perfect club, and muster up the courage to attend the first meeting. You talk to a few people and consistently continue to go to the meetings. A few months in, though, you may realize you don’t really see these people much outside of the club. While it’s nice to think that you’ll easily become friends with people who share common interests, it’s not necessarily going to happen so easily.

You expect the people in your first semester classes to become your close friends. In the first few weeks of the semester, everyone’s trying to make friends. People are going out of their way to introduce themselves, exchange phone numbers, and work on group projects together. For the duration of the semester, you may consistently see the same people because you share a class with them. This doesn’t mean you’ll automatically become friends, and once the class is over, it doesn’t mean you’ll stay friends. 

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Hopefully, you’re beginning to see a common pattern here: you expect the first group of people you meet on campus to become your close friends. These are assumptions that I made my first year, and when the first semester had ended, I felt alone. I thought I had somehow failed at college by not finding a close group of friends within my first semester. When I went home for winter break, I felt isolated, and coming back to campus didn’t sound as appealing without a close group of friends to return to. At that point, I wasn’t sure what to do, but here are some things I eventually learned:

Building worthwhile relationships takes time. After knowing the same people my entire life, I had forgotten what it felt like to form new relationships with strangers, and I was in too much of a hurry to make connections. Eventually, some of the people I occasionally talked to my first semester grew to be some of my now closest friends. We ended up spending more time together and things eventually clicked. Whether you connect with someone instantly doesn’t determine whether you’ll end up being good friends, so give yourself time to get to know people.

It’s okay to let people and expectations go. In the eagerness that comes with trying to find a new group of friends, it can be tempting to cling onto the first group of people you meet on campus. You may try really hard to keep in touch with people from your first semester classes or the first few people you met at student org meetings. You may even keep trying to force a connection with your roommates that just doesn’t pan out. At some point, you have to give up. You’re not meant to be friends with everyone you meet, and you’re not obligated to stay in touch with people just because they were the first people you met when you came to campus. Chances are, you’ll end up meeting some of your closest friends later on in your college experience.

Sometimes, there’s value in being alone. During the month of winter break, I had a lot of time to reflect on my first semester, and I came to an interesting realization. One of the most exciting (and sometimes terrifying) aspects of coming to college is the newfound independence. Part of me associated independence with being alone, and that idea made me uncomfortable. In high school, I was used to being surrounded by people all day, including club meetings after school. During my first semester, when I didn’t spend as much time with other people, I learned to become more comfortable spending time with myself. Even though I eventually found my social circle, I learned the value of spending time alone and enjoying my own company. 

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Here’s my ultimate piece of advice: when it comes to finding your social circle on campus, just give it time. It’s perfectly normal and okay to feel alone sometimes, even at a school where you’re constantly surrounded by people. Eventually, as you continue to meet more people, you’ll end up finding those lifelong friends you’re searching for- and it will be well worth the wait. 

Top 5 Time Management Skills

Time management is a difficult task to grasp for any student. It requires a lot of organization for which most college students do not have the patience. However, this is a skill that I acquired early on to benefit my future. I based my ability to master it through five key topics. It takes time to get comfortable with the routine, but it can be extremely beneficial when having to complete multiple tasks (especially during exam week.)

Planning

I know sometimes it’s really hard to see the use in a planner, especially after you spend 20 minutes picking out the one that “looks pretty” in the Target school supplies aisle. In reality, planners can actually be a lot more than a pretty visual. The idea of keeping track of what obligations, activities, events and responsibilities can also be applied through a calendar app. I practiced this by always writing things down and even including Post-it Notes for more important tasks. Highlighting important events is also helpful. The routine of organizing all of these in certain time frames can make you feel a lot more comfortable about your schedule. 

Prioritize/Set Deadlines

On any walk back to my residence hall, I would often anticipate how much homework I had to finish for the next day. I realized that if I completed each assignment based on the order of my classes, I would be able to enjoy a more peaceful walk home. If I was assigned projects, I would make sure to prioritize them leading up to the deadline so that I had time to work over multiple days. The Eisenhower Matrix (above) is a great chart system that helps make the decision of when to complete work. This can really encourage a good sense of organization and have you feeling a lot more relieved when it comes to due dates.

Work at Productive Times

I had a hard time studying or doing homework during times when I was most focused. I often would try to accomplish my work during the day, in between classes when I had tiny breaks. I soon realized I was not able to pay attention or be productive when my mind was thinking of the class I had to attend in the next 30 minutes. I realized that the evening time is where my motivation to get things done was most relevant. This aspect is solely based on personal judgement of what time of day you think you can be most productive. Make sure to be honest with yourself in order to ensure a good outcome.

 

It’s Okay To Say No!

There are numerous fun activities, social events and academic responsibilities that encompass a regular day as a student. Your choice to participate is a personal decision depending on your interests and abilities, and it can be tempting to overcommit to multiple projects at once. However, it is okay to decline opportunities simply because you do not have the time. Overcommitment can also cause you not to perform to your best ability. Having the confidence to say no can decrease stress and allow for more time toward other tasks you’ve prioritized.

Me Time

Over the course of school, it is easy to forget to take time for yourself. This does not always have to be strategically scheduled, but sometimes—when you’re really busy—scheduling 45 minutes to do something you enjoy is extremely helpful. I would often spend 30 minutes coloring or dancing to music in my residence hall room just to catch a break from the madness of my schedule. “Me time” is necessary to prevent the feeling of being overwhelmed and reduces stress on a more personal perspective.

I hope these tips help to understand the process of time management. Remember that it takes time to adjust and think about what will work best for you. Happy managing!

Everything you ought to know about Office Hours

What are office hours?

Office hours are special times that professors or teaching assistants (TAs) set aside just for helping students or talking about things related to a class. These are usually among the first things highlighted as the professor goes over the syllabus on the first day. Basically, what tends to happen during office hours is that a few students gather in a predesignated area and go around asking the professor or TA any questions they have about the course. The professor will elaborate on topics covered in lecture, go over homework questions (or random, hypothetical ones), and share any tips they have about understanding the material.

They may also share stories, life advice, suggestions for college, and tips for how to do well on quizzes, tests, and exams. This last part is especially worthwhile.  It’s also worth noting that office hours are like an open houseyou don’t have to show up at the start or stay for the whole time. Even if you can only hop in for 15 minutes and get your question answered, it’s worth it.

What should I ask?

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You can ask about anything relevant to the course material that will help you get a deeper understanding. For TAs, you can also ask the same things you would to a professor; they can certainly be less intimidating and may give you a different perspective.  Here are some examples of what you can ask:

  1. Re-explain a part of lecture
  2. Rework a homework problem
  3. Where to learn more about the topic – even how to get into research with it
  4. What to focus on for midterms/finals
  5. Ways to get extra practice
  6. Things to memorize
  7. How to format projects or what to include

What if I don’t know what I don’t know?

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In a class, there are three levels of being: submerged, head just above the water (most common), and chillin’ in the life raft. You’ll probably experience all of these things at some point in a class. When you’re just lost in a general sense of confusion, office hours are definitely the move. You don’t even have to talk; just sit there taking notes and listening to everyone else’s questions. That’s what I did for the majority of the office hours sessions I attended.  If the prof asks you directly if you have any questions, just be honest and say you’re trying to get less confused or that you’re just listening along for the extra explanations.

Will it be awkward with other people there?

“Come to office hours, I’m just sitting there alone at my desk waiting for students to come in”

You’ve heard this before, I have no doubt. And I’m sure that whoever said it was telling the truth, but I personally have no idea when the stars would align for this to happen. Ohio State is a big school, so even for small classes, a solid number of people will show up to office hours. The other people in office hours may seem intimidating at first, but you’ll quickly realize that you’re among allies in your confusion–you’re all faking it ’till you make it, but office hours pull the mask away a bit. Plus, if you do show up with no idea what you don’t know, you can rely on them to ask the questions for you.

On the flip side, if you’d prefer to meet with your prof or TA one-on-one, many of them have office hours “by appointment”. These tend to be underutilized, so they’re great for focused help and getting to know the professor better. You can also just send them an email saying that you’d like to meet, the vast majority would be happy to schedule at time with you.

How do I get the most out of office hours?

  1. Don’t be hesitant or embarrassed to ask questions, remember that other people will be wondering the same thing.
  2. Come prepared with specific homework questions that confused you.
  3. Have an idea of specific topics that you’re confused about. It helps to mark these points in your actual lecture notes so you know where the confusion began.
  4. Ask any questions that come to your mind during office hours.
  5. Try and stand out to your professor as someone who works hard to understand the material, even if it doesn’t come to them immediately. Your professors are valuable connections and possible rec letter writers.
  6. Make note of what your professor emphasized, this is likely to reappear on a test.
  7. Take notes. Treat it like a mini lecture but with more participation.

Remember that you get out of a class what you put into it. Making the extra effort to attend office hours pays off 🙂

My First Time Going to a Student Org Meeting

I was terrified the first time I went to a student org meeting. But why? I had been to a ton of high school clubs, and had always been involved, so what was different here? Maybe it was the fact that I went to high school with a class size of 150, so when I went to meetings in high school, chances were good I was going to see somebody I knew, or at least know their names. At Ohio State, there are more than 46,000 undergraduate students, so, a bit different. Maybe I was nervous because I was going to Psych Club and I was just a freshman, only having taken the beginner psychology class, so I was going to be so less informed as everyone else. Or, maybe I was nervous because everyone always talked about the importance of clubs and being involved. I needed to be the perfect amount of involved.

Lesson 1: The First Meeting, Nobody Knows Anybody

I walked in expecting everyone to already know each other, but the reality is, everyone was like me, just sitting quietly and exchanging small talk with each other, and it was just a relaxing environment. I sat down and introduced myself to the person sitting next to me. We started with the beginning questions that everyone asks when they first meet in college, such as, “What’s your name, major, and where are you from?” We started with some small talk about our psychology classes and what we liked and didn’t like. And then the meeting started.

Lesson 2: The Executive Board Wants to Hear from You

The executive board of the club started with a few introductions of themselves, and then explained the basics of the club, such as how dues worked, when they would be meeting, and other small things like t-shirts. Then they asked us to fill out a survey to see what we wanted to learn about. This was my time to write down psych club topics that I wanted to learn about in my free time. They were looking for good suggestions in order to craft the club content to the students, because at the end of the day, student organizations exist to get students interested and learning about things that they won’t learn in the classroom. This means that executive boards want to hear from you, so don’t be afraid to share your opinion and what you want to see the club do, whether that’s meetups outside of club hours to get food, or volunteering within the scope of the club.

Lesson 3: Don’t Be There for the Resume

It’s important to note that when you are deciding what clubs you want to spend your time at, identify which clubs you are excited to go to, and which ones are for your resume. It’s pretty obvious if you aren’t into the club if you are just there to look involved. When you are putting clubs on your resume, make sure to elaborate on what you did in each club, including volunteer day trips or projects you did–anything to illustrate how your involvement affected your learning.

Last Thoughts

Trying to decide which student organizations you want to attend and put your time toward can be a real struggle. You have to start deciding what you want to spend your time doing and how you think you will be able to handle them along with your classwork. One piece of advice I can give you is to just enjoy your time. Make friends around you in your clubs and try to make it a break in your day, not something to stress about. 

For Some, This One Thing May Be the Biggest Surprise of Ohio State

WHAT IS IT?

For me, this aspect of Ohio State was evident even before classes began my first year. During my summer orientation, I quickly noticed I was one of the few students there with a minority identity. I remember thinking multiple things at the time, most of them not so positive. I was surprised, nervous, and even a little disappointed–can you relate to these feelings?

THE REALITY OF IT

Ohio State’s enormous student body consists of so many different people; however, the vast number of people doesn’t necessarily guarantee anything about the numbers of those who identify as a minority. Despite the one lump sum of the student body, the reality of Ohio State is that when the student population is scaled down to an underrepresented population, there’s a noticeably smaller number of people. I mean, it’s literally in the name: underrepresented. They lack in numbers. I could bore you with statistics right now, which I won’t, but believe me when I say that there is plenty of data (counts, percentages, surveys, etc.) that show that it may be tougher to find a sense of community on campus if you’re a minority. However, as a second-year student, I went through it myself not too long ago, and I’m here to help elaborate on what you can do.

FINDING YOUR COMMUNITY ON CAMPUS

“Where do I go?”

That is essentially the big question. I know, I asked myself that same question. You may be as concerned as I was about trying to find a group of people that look like you and can relate to culture, experiences, backgrounds, language, heck, even your name! It’s important, I understand. You may or may not have had that community back home or in high school, but Ohio State DOES have these communities; you just have to be willing to look around! There are plenty of opportunities and resources to take advantage of here. Ohio State WANTS you to have that sense of community.

WHAT WORKED FOR ME

  1. Join a club/organization that revolves around your identity – This one is pretty straightforward. With 1,300+ registered student organizations, there are so many opportunities to meet those who share your identity. You can check out the full directory of registered student organizations in the Discover app on your iPad or online. Save some time and use those filters!
  2. Take advantage of events held by the university – Ohio State, like I said, wants you to be included in your respective community. Therefore, multiple events are offered throughout the entire school year for every identity! Save the dates and get some more info about these events through the Multicultural Center webpage.
  3. Access your resources – A university dedicated to helping you find community means numerous resources are available to you as a student; these resources are great ways to get connected with your community through involvements, programs and just general support! Check out all the ways Ohio State supports diversity initiatives and resources on campus.

BEING ISOLATED

“No one here looks like me.”

Perhaps you’ve thought this exact thing at an event for your major, through involvement with something else, or just sitting in class. I know how it is, I’ve experienced it myself. It’s a bit daunting to just look around and notice that. Even being a Peer Leader, where there are 28 of us, it’s the same story. I’ve had many talks about being and feeling isolated, and although I’m probably not much older than you, I do have some words of wisdom and encouragement that I want to share.

Be confident in yourself and your identity. If you stand out, you might as well stand out to the best of your ability. Use that as leverage to break stereotypes (which exist, unfortunately), be a role model, and represent your community in the best way possible.

If this post really spoke to you, go check out those links! Thank you for reading!

Deciphering Dining at Ohio State

Now that you’ve had a few weeks under your belt as a first-year student at Ohio State, hopefully, you’ve used your meal plan at least once or twice.

Have you finally cracked the code to the seemingly overwhelming mess of dining dollars, BuckID cash, swipes, and visit exchanges? Have you discovered the perfect way to use your swipes and dollars each week?

No? Still confused? Don’t worry, I like to consider myself pretty savvy when it comes to budgeting and dietary needs, but even I had trouble understanding at first. Luckily for you, I’m here to show you what I wish I had known dining at Ohio State throughout my first year.

First, the Basics: Dining Dollars, BuckID Cash, and Swipes

  • Dining Dollars can be used at any student dining services locations. They are intended to give you added flexibility in what you eat and where. By using dining dollars you get a 35% discount on your purchase. Even better, they roll over every semester you are enrolled.
  • BuckID Cash can be used at any merchant that accepts BuckID both on and off-campus. This is not just restricted to food purchases. Use your ‘Ohio State’ app to look at all the available merchants.
  • Swipes (all-you-care-to-eat visits) give you access to any of the three Traditions Dining locations (Scott, Morrill, and Kennedy).
  • Visit exchanges involve exchanging a swipe for a monetary amount. At most dining locations, it is $8 to one swipe, but at C-Stores it is $5 to one swipe. For example, if I were to spend $7.50 at Union Market, instead of using Dining Dollars or BuckID cash, I could use one swipe to pay.

Now that you know what each component of a plan is, how do you choose which plan is best for you? Gray 10, Scarlet 14, or Unlimited? 

  • Gray 10, at $2,025, will give you 10 swipes each week, $200 Dining Dollars, and $150 BuckID cash.
  • Scarlet 14, at $2,412, will give you 14 swipes each week, $200 Dining Dollars, and $150 BuckID cash.
  • Unlimited, at $1,976, will give you unlimited swipes to any Traditions locations, and $100 Dining Dollars.

When I was first deciding my meal plan, I scoffed at Gray 10, thinking that it could never feed me, so I chose Scarlet 14. A few weeks into the semester, I found myself routinely having at least seven swipes left at the end of each week. So, in my second semester, I decided to switch to Gray 10, which was much more suitable for my daily intake. The meal plan that will work best for you is just that – the meal plan that will work best for you. If you choose a meal plan you’re unsatisfied with, there is a grace period each semester where you can change it – you can’t drop down to a less expensive meal plan after the second Friday of the term, but you can always bump up to a bigger plan at any time.

Alright, you’ve learned about and chosen your meal plan, and now you’re absolutely dying to know what my top 3 dining locations are, right? 

  1. The MarketPlace on Neil. In my opinion, it has the best and most versatile menu. Anything from breakfast sandwiches and coffee to sushi to oven-fired pizza.
  2. Sloopy’s Diner. If you’re craving some late-night classic diner food, Sloopy’s has got you covered.
  3. Courtside Cafe. Located in the RPAC, if you’re looking for some versatile, healthier options after a workout (or anytime), this is your best bet!

Okay, but what about dietary restrictions?

Many students at Ohio State must navigate the dining services with dietary restrictions! Although common allergies and dietary preferences are posted on menus and in Traditions, in my opinion, the best way to view ingredients is to use NetNutrition. This web tool allows you to view updated menus, nutritional facts, and filter by allergies and dietary preferences.

Struggling to find balance or what works best for you nutritionally? 

As important as it is to simply understand dining plans, it’s also important to take care of yourself. If you feel like you need some additional guidance as far as meals and eating on-campus, the best advice I could possibly give is to check out the Student Wellness Center in the RPAC. They offer free, personalized nutritional education and coaching.

Hopefully, you’ve now mastered dining at Ohio State, and if not, trust that you will soon! It’s confusing, it takes time, and it takes practice. Luckily, you get to practice multiple times a day.

Eat healthy, drink plenty of water, and as always, Go Bucks!

7 Ways to Have a Healthy Roommate Relationship

SET SOME GROUND RULES

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One of the essential aspects of a healthy roommate relationship is setting up your roommate agreement at the beginning of the semester to the way you want the year to go. The roommate agreement is your chance to set rules in your room but also to learn about what your roommate expects of you. Be flexible but also firm with what you know will make you uncomfortable.

CLEAN UP YOUR AREA AND AFTER YOURSELF

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This one is pretty basic. I mean, if you make a mess of your room and your roommate likes things clean, there’s going to be conflict. The best way to get over fights with your roommate about cleanliness is to never have them at all. You are now responsible for your own space, so clean it up!!

RESPECT THEIR PRIVACY

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Depending on what your roommates’ beliefs or personal preferences are, privacy is something that is important when it comes to sharing a living space. Ask the awkward questions early, like “can we change in front of each other?”, “do you want me to ask before using your stuff?” or “what food can we share?” 

TRY TO LEARN THEIR INTERESTS AND BOND

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So your roommate probably isn’t going to be your best friend (I mean they might be, but that’s just the luck of the draw). Learn their interests and what classes they are taking so it’s not just small talk about the weather every day. That way, you can develop your room as a friendly space as well as a living area.

RESPECT THEIR SLEEP AND STUDY HABITS

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If you and your roommate are waking up for classes at different times, sometimes sleep can become an issue. My advice is to keep a semi-quiet alarm (but one that can still wake you up) and to be quiet when getting ready in the morning, to not disturb your roommate. Also, at night, if one of you has an early class, try to respect that by having lights out and not playing music to disturb them while they try to sleep, as they should do the same for you. Also, in terms of studying, don’t be afraid to ask for them to put on headphones for their music so you can study; people are reasonable as long as you ask nicely

DISCUSS THE “GUEST” ISSUE

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Okay, here’s the reality: people sometimes have “guests” stay over. Whether they are a boyfriend/girlfriend, a not-so-serious coupling, or just a one-night stand, this happens. Make sure you discuss with your roommate about who you believe you will be bringing to the room before you bring them, and how often. Also discuss the times they aren’t allowed. Be upfront and respectful of how they may choose to live their life, as they will respect your choices as well. 

COMMUNICATE

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If I could give just one piece of advice it would be this. The reason roommates fight is because something small happens, like someone not taking out the trash and you let it boil for three months and then explode at them for not doing their part, when they had no idea you were upset. SAY THINGS EARLY!! Tell your roommate what bothers you and offer solutions and compromises EARLY

So, what other things do you think are important for maintaining a healthy roommate relationship? Comment below!!

 

That Wasn’t What I Expected.

As my time as Peer Leader comes to an end, I wanted to take this opportunity to share with you what my journey has been like. I was hired as a Peer Leader in April of 2016 and I have been a Peer Leader for the new first year students of 2016 and 2017. When I applied for this job, I was looking for a place where I could share my experiences with students who were experiencing first year transitions. I found exactly that: the platform to support new first year students who were in need of help during their first year at Ohio State. What I hadn’t expected were the ways that I have grown and the lessons that I have learned along the way. I thought I was taking a job where I punched the clock in and out of work and that my experience would be boxed into that time. My role as a Peer Leader has significantly influenced me over the last two years.

There are two things that I have learned from this job that I want to share: you can find community where you aren’t looking for it and everyone’s story is valuable.

I never pictured myself being friends with my coworkers — I had already found community and I didn’t feel a need for more friends. Throughout my first year as a Peer Leader, I did not invest in time outside of work with my fellow Peer Leaders. At the end that year I felt like I had missed an opportunity to know my coworkers. I was excited to correct my attitude for my second year as a Peer Leader. With the mindset that I should invest time in developing relationships with my coworkers, I began to find community in the same place that I wasn’t looking for it one year ago. Being a Peer Leader soon became more of a community to me than a job. I was more excited to be at work because I knew my coworkers on a personal level and I was more inclined to ask them for help and share ideas.

Being a Peer Leader taught me that I didn’t know how to listen to other people. That sounds a bit weird, but trust me, I was bad at listening to others. Have you ever talked to someone who always takes what you share with them (bad news, good news, etc.) and makes it about themselves? That was me, and I didn’t even know it. Some of the training for Peer Leaders included active and reflective listening. I have grown better at listening and I have started to intentionally listen to my friends, coworkers, and classmates. Learning how to listen has helped me discover that every individual has a story. Being able to hear others’ stories has shown me how people view the world and has ultimately helped me to love other people well. I have found it is easier to enjoy being around people when you have spent time listening to them and trying to understand their story. I have gotten to see the depth and individuality within people by taking time to listen to them.

For me being a Peer Leader turned out to be a great learning experience when I had previously viewed it as a way to guide and teach other people. I am grateful for the opportunity to learn so much from being a Peer Leader. I encourage you to step into places where you can learn from others. It is valuable to be around people who challenge your ideas so you can reflect on them. A learning experience like this doesn’t have to be a job; maybe it is through a student org you join, a place you volunteer, or a class you take. We tend to challenge ourselves academically, let’s challenge ourselves in a new way by going places and having experiences that aren’t where we are most comfortable – we might learn some impactful lessons.

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.