“It’s weird. I feel like it won’t hit me until everyone is returning to Athens and, well, I’m not.” This is my typical response when people ask me how I feel about graduating soon. For the past few years, my lifestyle has been very… college; and not just “college” but Ohio University “college”. While I live like a typical college student (inconsistent schedule, late nights, early mornings, carb-only food, etc.) my experience is very OHIO. What I mean by this can only truly be understood by other Bobcats, as being a Bobcat is, as we all know, so very special and unique. To be sincerely sentimental, OHIO is my home. This is a community that I have truly felt integrated into — and PRSSA is a huge part of that community.
Upon entering my freshman year, I knew going into strategic communications was me taking a shot in the dark. My true desire was to enter into college as a creative writing major, as I had said for years that all I wanted to do when I grew up was write stories. My dad made sure to explain to me that the reality of that was skewed, and that being realistic would pay off in the long run. As most advice from parents tends to be, he was right. Nonetheless, entering a major that you aren’t completely sold on yet leaves room for many insecurities and second-guessing; and that’s exactly what I did. While I had a solid group of friends in the jschool, I had no sense of a “professional” support system. Halfway through my first semester, I picked up my second major, creative writing, because I didn’t totally trust in the course I was on. That is, I held these uncertainties until Sarah Kelly, my first friend at OHIO (put that on the record for the hundredth time please), took me to my first PRSSA meeting.
From that moment on, I started relying more on my instincts. I knew there was something about this major that took me off course, and as time went on, I realized the many doors that I had opened for myself. I began to feel myself becoming more and more dedicated to a career, and in particular a career in traditional and digital communications.
So here’s my first tidbit of advice: trust in the process.
I failed — a lot. I succeeded — a lot; but something I began to realize was that ultimately, I was happiest, even in times of failure, when I trusted in myself, my abilities, my dedication, and my drive to get me to where I needed to be. When things fall apart, better things will fall together. I’m applying this specifically to your career, but that goes for life in general. I’ve had failed relationships, failed friendships, failed personal goals and I’m still okay.
I get it. PRSSA, Scripps, your student orgs, they’re all filled with very competent and competitive people. At times you’re going to feel despondent, not good enough— lost. And this is where I’ll drop advice tidbit number two: the only person you need to please is yourself; comparison is the thief of happiness.
The moment you start comparing yourself to your peers is the moment you lose. Something this year taught me was that reflection of yourself is much more important in the long run than constantly thinking about how you can be better than so-and-so. If there are things you’re unhappy about with yourself, you have the capacity to change that. You will begin to realize that 9/10 times you don’t have control over the outcome of a situation— but you can control how you react to it, and how you move forward.
Alright, I went on my tangent. That is all the advice I’ll bestow on you or else this will turn into a self-help guide and that’s not totally why you’re here. You’re here to join me in lamenting over the fact that in a week’s time (probably less by the time you read this) I’ll officially be an OHIO alumnus. The reality of that slowly starts to hit me each day; and, okay, one final piece of advice (I SWEAR) treasure those you care about the most, and absorb every single moment you have with them. Because before you know it you’re realizing that in a weeks time everything is going to change; and while that change is scary, intimidating, and the uncertainty is, at times, too much to absorb, it’s exciting.
I’m about to start a brand new chapter of my life, and anyone who knows me knows how much I love a good adventure. So, to cope, I’m looking at these new times as a great, grand adventure. I hope you all follow me on social (@saradefibaugh) and reach out to me (firstname.lastname@example.org) to stay in contact; because while I’m gone, I’m still a Bobcat. Once a Bobcat, always a Bobcat. So cheers to new beginnings. It’s been a ride, Athens — wish me luck on the next one.
Sara Defibaugh is graduating as a double major in strategic communications and creative writing. She is also the outgoing Vice President of Finance for Scripps PRSS 2018-2019. Connect with her on Twitter @saradefibaugh