There is a peculiar moment in your college experience when you realize that time is somehow and suddenly both fleeting and stagnant. Hear me out. These things that you’ve worked so hard to establish – the academics, the clubs – they feel sort of tedious, a little mundane. Routine. But getting closer and closer to the real world feels much too daunting. I can’t think about consulting, because I might be a consultant soon. That kind of thing.
Still, it feels like I’m getting closer to making it. My time at Ohio State has been a relative success so far — I’ve been accepted to three of the top programs at the university, connected with the Ohio State alumni network to secure great jobs and internships both summers, and maintained my passion for the arts through the English community here. As the old saying goes, “I can’t believe we made it. This is why we’re thankful.” I feel that! I mean, I haven’t made it like Beyoncé, but I feel like I have a sort of direction. My question is how to keep making it – how to work towards my college goals while things are both mundane and daunting and too close, how to stay inspired and engaged.
So, I thought it’d be a good kickoff to my junior year blogs to mention the most inspiring moments of my past week at Ohio State – the things that remind me how amazing this whole thing is. I’ve organized them by location:
AT THE GYM: Non-lifting me, non-lifting friend, and a squat rack
I like doing flash-squats (random squats unexpectedly). But I recently decide to take it to the NEXT LEVEL. With a REAL squat rack.
Picture this: me and my also 5’2” friend in the lifting area of the RPAC (#BuckeyeFit) I could smell the protein powder. (Lol.) We were struggling with the squat rack when the guy behind us (who was intimidatingly muscular, by the way) kept squinting as us. He got off his machine and asked if we had used the squat rack before – we obviously said no – and he spent 10 minutes teaching us how to use it so we didn’t hurt ourselves.
I wrote freshman year about
everyday kindness. I still think that’s what changes lives.
AT A FANCY DINNER: Business people and business professional and 3-course meals
Honors Cohort is a very prestigious program – something I’m sure I’ll be writing about in blogs to come. It’s the top honors program at Fisher: competitive, well-funded, and fueled by a passionate board.
Still, it’s easy to be skeptical of businesses. This summer, I was
interning at Kiva after returning from New Zealand. Kiva is a nonprofit crowd-funding microloan platform. I was left both inspired but a little bitter at the way our political and business systems work, thinking in terms of how long-term, systemic change is created and how cycles of wealth are perpetuated at the top. I became rather skeptical of business executives for a while.
So I want to point to what reinvigorated me. Our dinner last Wednesday, through Honors Cohort, was at Hyde Park Prime Steakhouse with
Laith Khalaf, Senior Vice President at UBS. (I wish I had a phrase better than a breath of fresh air, because, ironically, the phrase is pretty stale.) But he was a BREATH OF FRESH AIR!
A few key points from his talk:
Laith mentioned, “Would you have thought, five years ago, you’d be in a steakhouse with the top talent at Ohio State?” This stuck with me. Being humble is important – but lots of college students, especially women, tend to undersell themselves. It’s important to take a step back and take pride. You are making it!
You could have a room full of 500 people who care about you if you stopped to think about it. Reach out. They are always around.
Laith runs a program called “Career Closet” that provides professional clothing for free to people who may not be able to afford them for interviews. He also donates to Honors Cohort to make the program feasible for everyone. It’s a great use of funding – we know that education is the greatest predictor of later success, both economic and social. Laith made me think critically about not just giving back, but giving back based on skillset, like through mentorship and investing in long-term impact. The best way to think of change is not through your fingertips, but through critically thinking about your skills, abilities, and the best use for them. I think that is more inspiring that anything.
AT A DINING ROOM TABLE, THE UNION, ON WALKS HOME: People. People, people.
I was working on a group project on an off-campus dining room table and suddenly realized I was having fun
in a group project. It felt so natural it’s like I planned it to be natural.
I was having lunch at the Ohio Union, at the new grain bowl station, with a friend of a friend. We talked for two hours, and I thought, “really, this should have been done sooner.”
I was walking home with a friend and talking about Harry Potter podcasts and Indian culture and late-night scooter rides — and it’s never been easier to open up. It used to be harder. Now, it’s getting easier.
The old, brown table, the two hours at the union, the humid walk back from class — they’re the smallest moments that remind me how everything must have aligned for life to be this full. And I wouldn’t change a thing.