fighting the sophomore slump

There’s plenty of stereotypes about college kids. Drinking too much, check. Freshman 15? Maybe not, but freshman 5, sure. But the stereotype I’ve found to be the most bitterly, confidence-crushingly true is the sophomore slump.

I didn’t think so before. For all the times I complained about being burned out as the spring days rolled by last year, I didn’t really believe it. “Things” were great–were always great. Each failed test was only a test of morale. Each night spent slumped in the hallway at 4am, in that awkward mash-up of sober and exhausted that feels somehow even more intoxicating than all that vodka you shouldn’t have downed, was a secret revel — of the joy of companionship, of the exhilaration of being young and stupid and alive.

Things were great.

And then summer happened. Somehow, in those three months of delicious freedom, things changed.

We didn’t notice it at first. We confronted the new school year with almost as much enthusiasm as the last, all smiles and hugs and incessant cries of “I’msohappytoseeyou!” And we were — until responsibility reared its ugly head.

Ugly, indeed. Jobs. Papers. Interviews. Friends. So many things to juggle, and so little time! Where to start? Not there, because that’s not due till next Friday — but not here either, ’cause you need to be there. And there’s a meeting at 7:15, and at 7:45, and at 8:20, until your Google Calendar has become pastel patchwork of responsibilities. Not to mention all the stress from home (did grandma survive surgery? did dad save the family from the stock market? did your little bro hit his first home run?). There’s no way to know, without asking. You might forget, and not ever know.

So much to do, so little time. No wonder we cry.

And sometimes, that’s okay.

A lot of the time, life is about pretending to be happy. It’s a common facade, and it exists for a reason. As a believer in optimism, I believe that simply through the sheer act of pretending to be happy, you can convince yourself that you are.

Many people would disagree, citing definitions of “true” happiness and the potential pitfalls of optimism. But, ultimately, there’s nothing like good company and a smile to spread the cheer.

So, we might be jaded, but that doesn’t mean we can’t have fun. Eventually, if we pretend hard enough, everyone else will be convinced — leaving only you, and I know that you can do it too.


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