Sophomore Slump? Says Who?

Is this the first post I’ve made since sophomore year began?

Excuse my total absence from this space for the entirety of the academic year, but I have exciting news because it was most likely due to the fact that my sophomore year was leaps and bounds better than my freshman year!

Every now and again I can recall the days in early freshman year (early being all the way through Winter quarter…) where I would just break down and cry because I felt that I wasn’t making friends or having the social life I wanted to have here or relating to people as much as I wanted to. I had great grades but not much besides that and I just felt terrible every time I tried to rectify it and nothing worked. Not to mention the fact that my self esteem was just so abysmally low and I was so ashamed of the person I was, despite not even knowing what about myself to be ashamed of.

Fast forward to this year and I feel like I’m just having a significantly better time. There’s so many high expectations for freshman year that I think I was just so overwhelmed that I couldn’t really externally relax enough to let people get to know me or just be chill. Ironically, after dropping the pretense that college would be how I expected it to be, things immediately began to get better. Unexpected new friends have made me more happy than they could even possibly know. From the ones who I spend most Friday evenings with doing random things and eating *good* food, to my few old FroSoCo friends who I appreciate so much more despite living across campus from them (probably because the majority of FroSoCo that was just a bunch of toxic nerd boys that were high key rude no longer cloud my judgement), to my friends from back home who are so great at keeping in touch with me that I always feel like I have a community no matter how lonely Stanford sometimes feels, and finally to the ones who I met solely through being in the same major and being in so many of the same classes but ultimately just make me feel really happy to be around (no matter how shy and corny I present to be) despite going through what feels like academic hell at times.

I’ve found so much more community relative to last year, and I think I first realized it after I got the news that my grandmother was diagnosed with leukemia like two or three weeks into the new year. If this had happened last year, I’m not sure who I would have been able to rely on. I’m the kind of person who doesn’t like for people to see them cry and would just bottle stuff in, but with this news I couldn’t hold myself together for the entire weekend when I found out (which was a three-day-weekend so…). In freshman year, the crying would have just ended and I probably would’ve just been super distant and even more sad throughout the year, however this year, I had amazing friends, including my glorious roommate who talked to me and understood what I was going through, and I can’t express how surprising it was when I realized that I had *never* had this kind of experience where I needed support and someone was there for me like this. Usually I am the one who has to give support like this and pretend I have life experience I don’t, especially for people who used me like their personal vent but did not reciprocate the favor. Being on the other side really made me feel like I wasn’t a background character anymore and an actual human being.

I know that for an absolute fact this year is so much better because even though my classes are getting substantially harder and it’s getting harder for me to feel like I know everything that’s going on and understand what I’m doing, I still *feel* happy. For the first time in my life I feel like my happiness isn’t inextricably tied to my academic success and I don’t think I’ve ever felt this way before. I know my self-esteem has improved so much because I actually allowed myself to have a lil’ crush on a boy for the first time since HIGH SCHOOL and what’s even better is that even though I kind of sense he probably doesn’t like me like that (not that I’ve asked…), I’m not really associating that with my value as a person and am still very much friendly with him!

There are still definitely things about myself that I want to change and things I want to keep hidden from the general Stanford community (my UNINTENTIONAL total straight-edge status), but I’m so proud at what HAS changed, like my ability to separate myself from people I don’t like yet think we’re friends, and I’ve been able to identify parts of my personality that I actually like about myself and amplify it to some degree. And appreciating all the people I meet that I actually do enjoy and just being slightly less awkward in general. I probably smile like 20X more than I did last year and I’m actually kind of sad for sophomore year to end ( false – the quarter system is too fast and it can still eat it gimme summer NOW ), but I’m so excited to see how much more confident and happy I can be in the next couple of years at Stanford. My bucket list of things that I’m behind developmentally still includes getting the nerve to open myself up to being rejected (and who knows maybe something will go well!!), and learning how to actually be emotionally vulnerable more than 30 seconds without feeling like I want to vomit, but those are all problems that can be solved in junior year!

But for now, peace out sophomore year. You’ve been much better than expected and I’m standing taller than ever.

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