Exhausted, unmotivated and a little more homesick than usual — sound familiar? If any of these describe your state of being this year, don’t worry, you aren’t alone. Fall Quarter, I began seeing gray rain clouds hovering over the heads of many of my friends and peers, myself included. When asked how their quarters were going or how they were doing, many friends responded with pessimism and a readiness to leave for winter break. Although I had heard the term “Sophomore Slump” before, I’d never fully understood it — or thought it would ever apply to me — until the slump finally crept in and transformed my seemingly perpetual blue skies into a gloomy overcast.
The days of sunshine and inspiration will return. The gray skies will not last forever. Together, we will all survive the Sophomore Slump.
In theory, the Sophomore Slump makes sense: The excitement and freshness of freshmen year has worn off. Classes have gotten harder. You might be realizing that you haven’t made as many friends as you had hoped to make at this point. Maybe you haven’t found your place here at UCSB and you’re starting to worry: Does such a place even exist for me? All of these are valid reasons to be feeling stressed out and doubtful. In reality, the slump is more difficult to accept, much less go about resolving. If you’re a fellow sophomore, this one’s for you. If you’re a freshman, an upperclassman or not even a student and you’re feeling blue, reading on may help you, too. Never fear! The days of sunshine and inspiration will return. The gray skies will not last forever. Together, we will all survive the Sophomore Slump.
Okay, I know you’ve heard this innumerable times before, but I’ll say it one more time, just for kicks. Join a club or organization! Believe it or not, folks, it really makes all the difference. Plus, there are so many different groups at UCSB that you literally have hundreds to choose from. If you’re looking to meet new people, make more connections or just have something more to do on your calendar, then there’s no reason for you not to get involved. I know that the step you have to take between wanting to do something and actually doing it is harder for some people than others. Sometimes the distance may only require a single, effortless step. Sometimes you may need to take multiple baby steps, or even a running leap of faith to cross the same distance as someone else.
How you choose to move forward is up to you, just remember to be moving. In high school, being a part of the school newspaper was a huge part of what made my high school experience amazing, yet it took me a year and a quarter to join the Daily Nexus. Putting yourself out there and making the commitment to see it through, whether your interests lie in academics or social life, recreation or community service, sports or the arts, can be intimidating. But the most rewarding aspects of life — specifically, your college experience — will only come by pushing your comfort zone.
Now, you might be thinking: I’m already involved in the organizations I want to be involved in. I’m taking the classes that I need. I have a solid group of friends. Why am I still feeling… slumpy? Unfortunately, the transition from naive freshman to experienced sophomore is not a total metamorphosis. Being in college for one whole year does not mean you have fully grown to be anywhere near the person you will be once you’re ready to throw your graduation cap in the air. I suspect that I will one day be a cute, wrinkly 80-year-old and will still be learning about the essence of who I am. That’s the beauty of personal development: We are constantly learning and becoming the best version of ourselves that we can possibly be.
Doing something for yourself, whether it be your mind, body or soul will do wonders for your well-being.
However, this also means that for the time being we remain caught up in the confusion of college and the future. In the meantime, as we continue to figure out our lives, talking to someone about how we’re feeling will definitely help. A lot. You might be surprised by who will be able to relate to how you’re feeling or provide words of advice or comfort. Not much of a talker? No worries! Doing something for yourself, whether it be your mind, body or soul will do wonders for your well-being.
Exercising regularly, making time for your favorite hobby and calling a loved one from home are all things that just make us feel good. Would you rather be alone in your room, overthinking your place in the universe, or at the beach, clearing your mind and soaking up the beauty of the world? Even watching an episode of your favorite show or going on a short bike ride can boost your spirits. Often, we get so busy, so caught up with school, work and other obligations that we forget that we need to make time for ourselves too.
If reading this article has given you a renewed sense of anxiety and stress about your purpose in college, your place at UCSB or your general state of livelihood, you can rest assured knowing this is completely okay. No one can be positive and confident with a can-do attitude at every second of the day. Being unsure and lost truly is the norm in college, especially during a time where many of us are at the pinnacle of adulthood and entering the “real world.” (Sorry, I.V., we love you, but we can’t stay here forever.) Even the people who seem like they have it all together are still figuring it out.
Pinpointing the source of your slumpiness is the first step in overcoming it. Proactively making a change in your life is the second step. If you are unhappy, stressed out or exhausted, but you don’t do something to improve this, you will continue to be unhappy, stressed out or exhausted. Your life is in your control. When thinking about the future starts to overwhelm you, change your focus. Just take it day by day; every second is precious. And remember: You don’t have to figure everything out all at once.
Calista Liu wants to emphasize that the Sophomore Slump doesn’t have to define you.