Two months ago, halfway through my first quarter as a non-freshman on The Farm, I wrote a post called “Feeling Homeless at School (P.S. I’m Alive)”. I talked about how I feel like I didn’t have a place to call home on campus this year, and how much that sucks. What I didn’t know at the time was that I was experiencing the first symptoms of what
medial health professionals dumb college students unaffectionately call: The Sophomore Slump.
Interjection: Something to keep in mind
I’m currently in the process of creating the next video in the “My ____ Quarter at Stanford” series, which is unsurprisingly entitled “My Sophomore Fall Quarter at Stanford.” Let’s cut to the chase: It is going to be a dope f*cking video. It has all the key elements of any quality CiC film: Sunny blue skies in the quad, cliche bicycle handlebar shots, dumb shenanigans that either allude to or blatantly display the consumption of illegal substances by a minor, dumb shenanigans that just allude to stupidity, etc., etc.
So I invite you, Dear Reader, to keep this post (the one you’re reading right now) in mind when you see the video for the first time, and let it serve as an element of undeniable proof that you cannot and should not always take what people post online, whether it be a YouTube video or an Instagram photo, for face value. We all use filters and jump cuts to make our lives look as glamorous as possible. I’m willing to sacrifice the illusion to offer that reminder.
You cannot and should not always take what people post online for face value.
Let’s get slumpy
The term “Sophomore Slump,” as it is used throughout this post/article/rant/whatever, can be defined as the following.
Soph·o·more Slump (/ˈsäf(ə)ˌmôr/sləmp/) noun: The dull and uneventful year-long period many; college students experience upon returning to their second year of school. Not uncommonly accompanied by feelings of stress and anxiety, brought about by factors including, but not limited to: Choosing a major, taking really f*cking hard classes, living far away from friends, difficulty meeting new people, and finding bae*.
(*See: Difficulty meeting new people.)
At the end of my freshman year, for whatever reason, I did not believe that I would experience the sophomore slump when I got back to school. I was certain that the strong friendships I had formed during freshman year would simply copy and paste into Year 2.0 and everything would stay the same (meaning they would stay as great) as they were Year 1.0. In fact, I had convinced myself that sophomores that claimed to be going through “the slump” “just had a bad mindset.” If they had a more positive attitude, I thought, maybe they wouldn’t be so damn miserable all the time.
*Jumps into time machine*
*Goes back to freshman Cath*
*Smacks freshman Cath*
*Returns to modern day*
What naïve freshman Cath didn’t understand that I understand now is that there are institutional factors out of students’ control that directly contribute to the Sophomore Slump, which for me, has been just ten straight weeks of a totally and completely dull, watered down version of the Stanford I thought I knew. I’m going to go ahead and get the conversation started by proposing that these factors be: The cold turkey switch from the freshman experience to the non-freshman experience, the sudden geographical distribution of friend groups, and the lack of avenues through which to meet new people and form upstanding relationships.
Cause #1 of the Sophomore Slump: The university doesn’t really give a sh*t about sophomores
I ❤ frosh, and so does the university. Freshmen are special, and the university has a vested interest in making the freshman experience one-of-a-kind. If the university can convince you to fall in love with Stanford in the first year, they’ve probably convinced you for life. (Guilty.) That’s why freshman year is ridden with programming (to which the role of the freshman dorm is central) like scavenger hunts, intramural sports, on-call activities, movie nights, free catered late night, etc.
And then POOF. The freshman becomes a sophomore, and all of that goes away. And I don’t care if this makes me sound soft: For me, it was jarring to go directly from guaranteed cupcake-decorating on-call activities 3 times a week to what I get as a sophomore in Suites, which is essentially a sketchy, low-profile RA I have never met sending out an email blast with the subject line “im on call eom”.
Freshman year, the university really made me feel special and loved. It feels like sophomore year, the university forgot I existed.
Cause #2 of the Sophomore Slump: Sparse geographical distribution of homies
I HATE that I’m no longer living with all my closest friends. Don’t get me wrong, we still see each other, and I’m inclined to say more often than may be the norm. I love that we all make that effort. Once we’re all together, it’s great. But at the end of the day it’s still effort where effort needn’t be expended el año pasado.
Living on opposite sides of campus, or even in different buildings, means having to schedule and arrange hang-outs as opposed to them just *happening*. Last year, I would just walk into Larkin 251, pop a squat on Allan’s bed and start doing my homework. Homies would roll in and out, but everyone stayed for as long as they could. Now, those haphazard chill outs don’t happen because they can’t happen. People live far away from each other, and a single individual only has the energy to traverse so much geographical space in one day.
Cause #3 of the Sophomore Slump: No new friends. (Ever.)
Feel free to jump in on this one if I’m doing something wrong, Dear Sophomore Reader, but I’m having a very hard time meeting as many people as I did last year. I’m certain this is a result of the fact that a) As compared to the start of freshman year, I now know a considerable chunk of the student population and therefore have fewer people to meet, and b) Freshman dorm environments were like little petri dishes of friendly nerd communities brewing friendships like bacteria and sophomore dorm environments– HAHA– don’t exist.
The Sophomore Slump is an endless cycle. You don’t see your freshman friends as often because you’re all spread out on campus this year, so you convince yourself it’s time to meet new people around you to pick up the social slack. But then HA! JK! You can’t, because the university hasn’t invested enough in ensuring that the sophomore living environment is as cozy and fun as freshman year, where that coziness was a big green light for everybody to open up and meet new people. So since staying in touch with your friends from last year and branching out on your own require expending extra energy that– let’s be real– you don’t have after getting the life repeatedly sucked out of you by psets and papers, you end up sitting around feeling further anxious yet because all that brain space that was being used for social cognition is now being rented out by academics, save for the occasional emotional knock on the door that’s there only to remind you how lonely you are.
Or maybe that’s just me. Idk.
In other news:
- I probably won’t be a Communication major anymore! What! What? I don’t know. I literally have no idea. Typical sophomore crap; I’ve embraced the stereotype.
- I’m home for winter break!
- I keep going to bed between 3 and 5 AM and waking up at noon. Almost the exact opposite of when I’m at school.
- I have left the house twice since getting home from the airport and have worn real pants once.
- It’s not even cold here. It’s just cloudy and dark and rainy and gray. At least snow would brighten up this sad excuse of a landscape.
- I saw a deer yesterday and got excited. I feel like I’ve officially become an outsider in my hometown.
- My family and I are leaving next Wednesday to go on vacation in Dubai!!! It’s gonna be a blast. I feel so blessed 🙂
- The sophomore cabinet GroupMe is really making me wish I had a dog right now: