Everyone has heard of the sophomore slump. It’s a product of the fact that as freshmen, the administration does everything in it’s power to prevent attrition ranging from four day long orientations to placing us in large residence halls where we’d be crazy not to befriend everyone. For me, sophomore year was even more of a curveball then I could have ever imagined. Because I didn’t rush a sorority, I went from living in a crowded first year dorm, which I loved, to a quiet apartment where I had a single and lived with three other girls who were already so put together that I felt behind by decades. They had their own lives, and I couldn’t figure out how to be as happy and social as I was when I had all of my closest friends living around me in a dorm. It took trial, error, and major error before I really accepted that the sophomore slump had taken me as its victim.
When I started to feel better about life in general, I knew I wanted to publish an article about hitting a slump, and how it made me a better student, friend, and all around person, but it wasn’t until recently that I really figured out one of the main reasons why the slump was what it was for me: our culture of comparison.
Don’t get me wrong, social media is great. It’s fun to see what your friends are doing at all times, but it can create the constant culture of comparison where you find yourself (or at least, I did) wondering why it looks like literally everyone else is succeeding and having a good time, except me. There were a lot of times where I wondered what I had done wrong at some point to deserve the loneliness that I felt. It seemed like everyone had their lives figured out and was enjoying them as well. Except me. Seeing pictures of people while they’re our or doing anything else together started to just be a constant reminder that I wasn’t doing those things, and I felt really bad about myself. I would set these expectations for my nights out or really, just my interactions with people in general because I thought wanted what I saw on my social media. I started to realize that there wasn’t any identifiable quality in any of the social media that I wanted, I just felt like I had to compete and match what I saw.
I think college can sometimes feel like a swimming pool where you thought you could touch the bottom. But when you really can’t, there’s the shock of that the first gulp of chlorinated water going down your throat because you completely didn’t expect to be floundering as much as you are. You know how to swim, but the pool isn’t what you thought it would be. But from my experience, the only way that stops is by realizing that the only thing that will make us happy is setting our own goals and then slowly, but surely, achieving them. For me, it was the decision to apply for an executive board, and work toward that decision, get the position, and realize that I was now a part of something bigger then myself.
This doesn’t mean that you have to keep setting little random goals for yourself to pass the time. It just means that you categorize your priorities to fit what you need to focus on moment by moment. For me, the executive board was an immediate goal that drove me to put in work where I hadn’t before. Long term, though, I have my goal of going to medical school and honestly, on those lonely nights when I’m studying and I’d much rather be doing something else, I know that the future I want for myself requires me to think past, “How can I instantly take away this feeling.” Coming out of a slump or even just trying to feel better while completely in one can only come from changing who you are on a micro, micro level and beating the only competitor that matters- yourself. It took a lot for me to realize that it isn’t about trying to be like anyone on my Snapchat or Instagram, and it isn’t about trying to prove that I can have the best life in pictures, it’s about accomplishing the little tasks I set for myself and surprising myself along the way, because I can honestly say I kind of like the person I found.