Intellectual Wellness: Changing the Culture of College

When I was in grad school, I was a grad assistant for a wellness program on campus. We did a number of events but by far our most popular events were alcohol education events, so I have a bit of an interest in this. I have recently noticed a number of universities suspending Greek organizations on the basis of alcohol related deaths or sexual assault allegations. While I am someone who admittedly has some biases against Greek orgs, I have to take a step back and look at the bigger picture. Even at universities where Greek life isn’t big, there are still alcohol related deaths and sexual assault. It’s not just about punishing the Greek organizations. It’s about taking a step back and looking at the bigger picture. Getting wasted and drinking games that promote binge drinking are popular on college campus. So popular that it is almost expected of college students to go out and get wasted. And when you are drunk, your decision making skills are impaired as well as the fact that in most states, you are not legally able to give consent if you are intoxicated.

What needs to change isn’t that more frats and sororities need to be punished and suspended. What needs to change are the cultures of college campuses. Which, someone who studied org change in grad school, is not an easy feat at all. However, colleges are a unique setting, because unlike a typical organization that retains staff members for years, decades, and even longer…a new college class comes in every year and in 4-6 years ish, that class is gone and moved on. We need to start with incoming students and start working on changing the culture of universities. Right now, we have universities that have parties going on where students are soaking tampons in alcohol to get drunk. Students are playing binge drinking games to get hammered because it’s the “cool” thing to do. How is any of this an accepted behavior? We throw phrases around like, “there is a time and place for everything and that is in college” and while that is true for some things, there is never a time and place to soak a tampon in vodka and insert it into your body just to get more drunk.

Intellectual Wellness: Fear

Whoa, whoa, whoa. 2 posts from me on back to back days? I’ll be honest, I really enjoyed my time away but at the same time I have missed this blog quite a bit. I’m moving this blog into a different direction and offering more insight on my personal opinions of wellness topics and what inspires me. I got to the point where I felt like I was writing for other people and not writing for myself anymore. So I’m trying to remove the idea that this blog is a business and remember that this blog is a reflection of me. I hope future posts convey this much more clearly. Now let’s get into this!

It’s no secret that I love podcasts. They are my favorite thing to listen to when I walk to work or when I am doing random tasks that don’t really require any brain power but need to be done. NPR’s TED Radio Hour is just hands down my favorite podcast right now. I love the topics they discuss, I love the people that the feature, I love the structure of the show, I love every single thing about it. I find myself listening to it and feeling inspired and motivated and learning all the time from it. One podcast that I recently listened to was about fear and failure. Ah yes, the things that seem to cause us to hold back the most in life. I know a thing or two about failure. Actual failure. My first semester of my undergrad I was a marketing major. I was taking a macro economics class and I walked into the final knowing that even if I scored a 100% of the final, I wouldn’t have a shot at even getting a D- in the class. I didn’t just fail this class, I massively failed this class. I landed myself on academic probation, lost my academic scholarship, I found myself completely lost. While I was never a straight A student with a perfect GPA, I was always an honor roll student with strong grades. School was never easy for me but it was never that hard either. I had never failed this horribly, ever. I never retook that class. It still remains on my transcripts. And it always will. It was one of the hardest and best lessons I have every learned. Because through failing, I found my passion – psychology. Which is exactly what I said in my personal statement to graduate schools I applied to. I wanted to address my poor performance in my first semester of my undergrad because that killed my GPA. I wanted graduate schools to know that I was resilient and that even if I did fail (hopefully not as horribly) I would be able to come back stronger than ever.

See what this story of my failure has to do with fear is that we often have a fear of achieving our goals or dreams. We are afraid of failing and of making mistakes. We see failure as the ultimate let down and not a learning opportunity or an opportunity to grow as an individual. We forget that grit and determination can help us remain resilient in tough situations. And that at the end of the day, even if you do fail or make a mistake, you at least tried. You at least tried to do something new or different or something that was outside of your comfort zone. And even in failing, you grew as a person. You pushed yourself. Whether it is at work, at home, in your workout, in school, with friends, family, loved ones – you made an effort to not sit back and take the easy way. And while that is scary, we should never let fear get in the way of achieving a goal.

Unless it is a scary movie, then fear always wins. I hate scary movies.

Intellectual Wellness: Life Lessons I Learned in Grad School

I read this article on LinkedIn the other day and it reminded me of a similar article that I wrote after I finished grad school. 2 years later and it all still rings true for me.

When people say the people that you meet in grad school are people that you will have in your life forever, they are right. But don’t be surprised if it is not people that are in your cohort. The people that I am most sad about leaving and saying goodbye are people that I have met through my GA.

Even though you are in grad school, keep your options open. I came to grad school thinking that my interests were completely centered in the “I” side and discovered that the “O” side is so much more interesting and compelling to me.

Even though you are grad school, stay involved on campus. I went through a couple leadership series my second year, and I have been able to network with an entire different group on campus and it has given more additional skills that I was not exposed to in the classroom. Especially in my field of study, this has given me that opportunity to start to practically apply the theories of leadership that I have learned in regards to leadership.

What you learn in the classroom will never compare to what you learn in a real world setting. That being said, grad school for me, was totally worth it. Because the lessons I learned in the real world were much more valuable for a number of reasons. 1.) I would have never had those opportunities had I not been in grad school. 2.) I was able to better analyze those lessons because of my additional education. 3.) Knowing theory is essentially for really being able to learn lessons and make changes.

Don’t be afraid to take a chance. I decided to move 700 miles away from home for grad school. But taking a chance could be in what you major in, where you go to school, what you research, etc. Just remember to have an open mind but guard yourself at the same time.

Having a support system may be the most underestimated factor in grad school. No where on the grad school application does it say anything about how strong is your support system. But trust me, I would have never made it through anything without my support system. Granted some of the things I went through during my time at grad school are not traditionally things that people go through, but I can guarantee you that every grad student has been stressed out.

Learn how to manage your time. If there is one thing I wish I would have learned before grad school, it is how to manage my time. I didn’t find a system that worked for me until my 2nd semester of my first year, but once I figured it out, my stress drastically decreased.

If you are moving far away for grad school, visit the place first. Before I accepted my offer to grad school, I went to all the grad schools that I was accepted to and did a campus visit. When I came to the university I am at now, it was at the bottom of my list. I thought that this was the last place I would go. It doesn’t seem that prestigious, it is not in a geographically great place…the other school seemed much better on paper. But when I visited both schools, I really realized that the “less prestigious” institution was definitely where I needed to be. The professors were amazing and so helpful just during that one campus visit.

Be willing to stand by decisions that you made or own up to a mistake you made. Don’t be a flake. (That’s really just a life lesson for everyone.)

Intellectual Wellness: Bearable News?

One of my goals for this year was to stay up-to-date with the news. A lofty goal if you ask me, especially with 24/7 news coverage, I feel like there is constantly a new story breaking. And who has time to keep up with all of that? I discovered theSkimm through Cupcakes and Cashmere and have to say…if you want to know what is going on in the world in 5 minutes, go check out theSkimm. They send out (I get mine around 5 am) emails every week day and in bullet form give you a run down of what is going on in the world. I honestly feel like their writing is amazing and relatable. I feel like I keep up-to-date with not only the huge major stories, but also sporting events, and other news items. They partner with brands and do giveaways and their social media is hilarious.

If you want to check out their newsletter, you can sign up here. If you signup, let me know in the comments below and let me know how you like their content! I have been subscribed to theSkimm for well over 6 months now and I read every single one of their newsletters. theSkimm is also how I found LearnVest. I highly recommend it!

Intellectual Wellness: Podcast Love

I wanted to give a quick shout out to some of my favorite podcasts to listen to and see if any of you have any great ones that you like to listen to.

Radiolab from WNYC
Amazing story telling from Radiolab. They take random topics, merge together stories and somehow make a coherent podcast that always interests me. It’s one of my favorites to listen to at work when I’m doing tasks that do not require a ton of brain power.

Stuff You Should Know 
Ok, the title says it all. And if you are looking for something you should know about, from death penalty to how temper tantrums work, these guys are to the go to guys. Enjoyable, easy to listen to, and very knowledgeable.

MuggleNet Academia 
If you are a Potter nerd like me, I highly recommend this series (although, to be fair, I haven’t listened to the other ones). I love this series b/c they analyze HP from a different point of view every time. My favorite episode is hands down the languages one where they brought in interpreters and they discussed the difficulty of turning the world of Potter into different languages. It’s awesome.

The Adam Carolla Show 
Eric introduced me to this podcast. I was listening to an episode one day walking home from work and I was actually laughing out loud walking down the street. If you have a dry sense of humor, like sarcasm, and enjoy a little news in your life, Adam might be the guy for you. Worth checking out.

What are your favorites? Share below

Intellectual Wellness: College.

So, I know that it is the beginning of the month and I usually do a check-in, but for February, can I just not? Well…I mean it is my blog so really I can do whatever…but. Ok, so I’ll confess. February=crazy. Crazy, crazy, crazy. A ton of stuff happened and I kept super busy all month long. So that means A.) I didn’t finish a book this month (crap) and  B.) my goals were definitely pushed on the back burner as I just do whatever I can to keep afloat during this month. February just happens to be when things get crazy with work. I also found out that I will be transitioning my role a bit, which just brings it’s own slew of happenings. So all of that is just why…I’m just not going to do a full recap on the month. It was crazy. It was busy. It was stressful. It was February. But now it’s March, so let’s get on with it, shall we?

So I am admittedly someone who loves to watch YouTube while I get ready. And I’m not always into watching an entire show on Netflix because sometimes I just need 10 minutes of a little some something and I just find that I often gravitate towards YouTube to watch (er have background noise…) while I get ready in the morning. I recently stumbled upon this video by ClothesEncounter which just gives a run down of the 1o things she learned in college beyond you know, the actual content of her courses. Naturally, I find my inspiration from other people’s work because I’m not very creative and I heavily rely on others ideas…anyway. You know what’s coming.

Background info:  I went a 4 year university (graduated in 3 1/2) and got my BA in Psychology w/ a certificate in Industrial and Organizational Psychology. I then went on to grad school for 2 years and got my MS in Industrial and Organizational Psychology. So here are my tips/TIL from college.

1.) As annoying as it is to have to take those general education/core classes, just do it and make the most out of it. Because I took Intro to Psych as a freshman, I actually found my major. And that story really isn’t that uncommon.

2.) Don’t get so caught up in the, “I’m a psych major so what career and I going to go into with a psych degree?” (especially for those of you in the Liberal Arts and Sciences majors). Start thinking about what knowledge, skills, and abilities (or for those I/O-ers reading this, KSAs) you are gaining from school. How can you apply your education to a career? Look at it broader and look at the big picture. Remove your blinders and think more broadly.

3.) Intern! Oh god if there is one thing that i regret from college is not being more involved on campus and not ever interning anywhere. There are interns in my office now and they are just so much better off than I ever was. Just intern. Just do it. Regardless of whether or not you get paid. Intern.

4.) Study abroad. I also really regret never taking the opportunity to study abroad. I regret this so much. There really isn’t ever another time in your life for this opportunity. Start researching it, start putting away money for it, and seriously, go do it.

5.) Speaking of research, freaking research financial aid and scholarships. Seriously. Become a master of your finances before you even start college. Know exactly what you are signing before you sign it and if you don’t know, make an appointment with a financial aid counselor or student legal services or with a banker locally. Know what you are getting yourself into. Be willing to look at the bigger picture.

6.) Planning. This is something that I got to be a pro at in grad school. Every Sunday night, I would go through my syllabuses and map out my week. I would make to-do lists of what I needed to accomplish every single day. What exactly would I need to read every single day so that come the weekend, I didn’t have 100s of pages of research articles to cram in. And then I made a to-do list for every single day. It seems excessive, but did it ever save my bootay in grad school. Then every night, I would watch the Daily Show and re-evaluate my to-do list. If there was any extra projects that needed to get added or if I ran out of time that day…I made a master plan on Sunday and re-evaluated every night to make sure I got everything done and did it in a way that I could retain the information.

7.) While you are planning out your days, make time for stress relief. For me, this was gym time. I forced myself to the gym in grad school even though I didn’t think that I had time for it. But taking an hour a day to step away from the books and shut my brain off was seriously the best thing for me. I then got the point where I would pack my gym clothes when I left for the day and park in the gym’s parking lot so I had to walk to the gym to go home. And if I already had my gym clothes with me…might as well just go ahead and work out, right? Right.

8.) Learn from setbacks. I don’t like to call them failures. But yeah…failures/setbacks are going to happen. That’s life. Give yourself a day to be upset and frustrated (either right after the fact or later on). But figure out what went wrong and why and how you can make sure that failure doesn’t happen again.

9.) Take advantage of being a college student. That doesn’t mean to use it as an excuse to get wasted and drunk every weekend (take it from me, you don’t have to and that’s not the norm – if you don’t feel comfortable doing that and your friends are constantly pressuring you to do that even after you say no, they aren’t your friends). That means, student discounts and free services. Often, you get a student discount for things like your gym but there are also stores that offer student discounts and you can sometimes get concert tickets for student discounts. Don’t be afraid to either research or ask. The worst they can say is no. Also, universities tend to have tons of free services like financial aid counseling, legal help (yup, that usually means your taxes!), and even mental health counseling in addition to all the free t-shirts and key chains. You are essentially paying for everything with your tuition so you might as well use it up.

10.) Friends. The people you meet in college are the greatest people. I’m still close with a few people and I love them dearly. They are people who I will be friends with for my entire life. But at the same time, there are people who you will meet, love, and then lose contact with. Don’t be sad for these friendships. Remember them fondly. And for the people who are bad influences on you, remember them with the lesson.

You learn a lot in college. And pretty much none of my TIL have anything to do with class. But college is more than just class. For a lot of people, it is the first time being out on their own. You are expected to learn a ton from class but you will also be learning a world of things about yourself.

Intellectual Wellness: Idk? Google It!

I have had this article from the New York Times sitting in my “Blog Post Ideas” bookmark for at least a month (check that, just over a month, it was published on January 14). I have ermed and ummed about writing this blog post because what I’m going to write about, I’m just as guilty of…

How many times have we relied on google for the answers? (Or even worse asking people on facebook a question you could easily just google yourself). We take the first couple of hits and get our answers and move on with life. The problem with taking goggle results at face value is that, well, they are often wrong or don’t contain the entire answer. It’s important to do further research. If you have ever read scientific research, just take a look at the reference section. Good solid research has a crap ton of references. And then look at the intro and then take a peak at the section between the abstract and the methods section. Allllllllllllllllllll of that stuff is reviewing all the previous research (and you know, establishing purpose and reason for the current research).

Here’s the deal. Use google. But make sure you look up a few different sources and that you are doing a little thing called fact checking.

Intellectual Wellness: Book Review #1

Part of my Goals for 2014 was to read a book a month. I’m going to incorporate this goal into my blog and provide some brief book reviews. Not in the 7th grade English class way. But in the this is my blog and I want to share some of the books I’m reading.

This month, I read Wasted:  A Memoir of Anorexia and Bulimia by Marya Hornbacher. I’ll admit that this isn’t my first time reading this book. But it was the first time reading it for the sole purpose of not trying to trigger myself into a darker place. I’ll also admit that this book did take me about a year to read. Not because it is long or difficult to read, but because it is difficult to read. My struggles were not near as bad as Marya, but like anyone that has struggled, you can relate. And sometimes it takes time to process.

While reading Wasted for what seems like the 20th time (and probably not that much of an exaggeration), I decided to highlight and take notes – just like a good grad student. And while I won’t share everything that I highlighted or all the little scrawls in the margins, there are a few things I want to share.

And so I went through the looking glass, stepped into the netherworld, where up is down and food is greed, where convex mirrors cover the walls, where death is honor and flesh is weak. It is ever so easy to go. Harder to find your way back. 

I had a secret. It was a guilty secret, certainly. But it was my secret. I had something to hold on to. It was company. It kept me calm. It filled me and emptied me out. 

Would the fall never come to an end? 

Wasted gives one of the most raw accurate descriptions of not just eating disorders but the thoughts and feelings one goes through. Marya grabs you in with her raw honesty. The front cover claims that this is a book that can save lives, but I think it should be read with caution. While it can be eye opening, it can also be dangerous. I have been triggered many times by reading this book. But that’s the competitor in me always seeking a new competition. But if you ever want to get a glimpse into the world and the eyes of someone who has gone through eating disorders, Marya does it in an amazing way. She does analogies like no one else.

Intellectual Wellness: Which Is Better?

I tend to get scoffed at quite a bit for having a more “pessimistic” (what I like to call realistic) view on life instead of an optimistic view. And I’m just curious, is one better than the other? This isn’t much of a post today as much as it is just wanting feedback and polling my audience. I will start the conversation by saying that I think both have their pros and cons and it takes both kinds of people to make our world run. I don’t see being pessimistic as a horrible thing and I don’t see being optimistic as the greatest thing ever. I don’t believe that people who are optimistic are “better” than people like me who have a more pessimistic view on the world.

But I’m really curious (aren’t I always?) as to what my readers think. Does it change your view on me and my blog knowing that I’m pessimist more than an optimist? (Also, I see these two things on a continuum, not as categorical variables.) What are your thoughts on these two ways of looking at the world? Are there other variables (like realistic) that we could include in this?  I really wanna know and have a conversation about this because I think it is just downright fascinating to discuss how other people see the world. Here is a situation now how to other people of varying backgrounds, education, religion, views see this situation? Call me crazy (but don’t call me maybe) but that’s an interesting conversation to me!

Intellectual Wellness: I Watched This One Documentary…

I love documentaries. Love them. Well, except bad documentaries. I will watch a documentary on pretty much anything and everything. Russia’s Toughest Prisons? Yup. Frozen Planet? Absolutely. Eating w/ Cannibals? Watched it. I just love them. I love the opportunity to sit my bootay down in front of the TV and absorb knowledge beyond the cartoons that I watch.

Watching TV is kind of a guilty pleasure so I try to make it educational as well. I also try to stay active when I watch TV. So during the commercials I will get up and put stuff away, do my dishes, get my stuff ready for the next day, brush my teeth, wash my face…something. Just something so I am getting up and not spending the whole 2 hours plopped on my garage sale found futon.

How do you make a guilty pleasure “healthier”?