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.

A Letter To My Sister(s): Don’t Let White Suburbia Strip Away Your Femininity

My little sister is in 9th grade, just starting high school, and it’s homecoming season. Originally, she said, uncharacteristically, that she was going to skip it and go to an indoor water park with her friend. Today she calls me and says that she is shopping for homecoming dresses but still doesn’t know if she wants to go or not because all her friends are going but they’re all getting asked and she knows she won’t be.

In that moment, not only was I transported back to my own insecure freshman year, but I also felt the immediate call to action. I was not going to let me sister deal with the common plight of the black woman in dating life so soon.

Even though she didn’t explicitly say it, anyone could tell my sister was a little bit upset about the fact that nobody would want to ask her to homecoming. My sister annoys me from time to time but I admire her personality and liveliness so much that it hurts to see something as inconsequential as a homecoming dance bring her down. She’s already getting the taste of having to watch all of her friends get the attention of high school boys while she’s seemingly left behind. Having to go to school in a community that implicitly and immediately ranks you as a less attractive woman for your skin color alone is something no young girl growing up should have to go through, yet it happens everywhere, all the time. She even tries to hide her incredibly defined arm muscles because she doesn’t want to “look too strong”.

From personal experience, it’s infuriating to know that so many people exclude black women from their dating pool based on “preference” (a.k.a thinly veiled and coded racism). Black women are incredibly hypermasculinized as they are stripped of their femininity and perceived as aggressive, loud, and/or “ratchet”. Our facial and body features are either viewed as ugly and undesirable or entirely hypersexualized (black booty ring a bell?). I’ve written and researched extensively on the fetishism of POC women, but black women, especially the dark-skinned black woman, are counter-fetishized like no other, and boy are we aware of it. The internal shame you feel when you start to like a guy but then take it back because you know there’s no way that he likes dark-skinned black girls is a hallmark of our lives. These beliefs are ridiculous but they’re instilled at such a young age for girls like my sister and I who grow up around girls who look nothing like ourselves. Both my sister and I deeply regret chemically relaxing our hair in order to have hair that was more “normal”, only for our hair to be damaged and fall out soon after, but what I regret most about it is that I stripped away a part of my own black natural beauty, solely in order to fit the white mold that would always cast me out. (Note — there’s nothing wrong with relaxing your hair if it’s your choice)

And the worst part is, that even when you recognize the problem, there’s so few people around you that can empathize or sympathize, that you just have to quietly accept it as part of your life and hope that one day you’ll find your “white savior” (or any race of man because even black men are incredibly guilty of “defeminizing” and dismissing black women) who actually give us a chance, praying they don’t have some fetish or something. Additionally, talking about this issue with non-black women, to me, has always felt like I’m coming across as bitter that I’m not getting the boys’ attention that I “so richly desire” (*insert eye-roll*), but deep down inside, we all know the issue is so much deeper than the individual. I’m so exhausted of this standard being so common and so hotly defended, and I’m so done living in a world where I have to constantly fight for and prove my own femininity by dismissing my black identity.

Back to my little sister, I want her to know that she is beautiful and that no guy in her white, rich, conservative suburb can make her feel otherwise. I want her to know that she does not have to settle for whatever slimeball-leftover-boy her friends try to set her up with so they don’t feel guilty about her going alone. I want her to have the confidence to flirt with guys and ask them out and not immediately think of rejection before she even tries. And I’d like to think that the buck stops in white suburbia, but it exists even far outside its reach, as I can tell living in one of the most liberal states in this here union. I know it’s going to be a tough road for her because I lived it, but she deserves an adolescence that’s defined by her embracing her own femininity and feeling confident, empowered, and beautiful, as ALL black women are and deserve to feel.


Note: this is definitely from a heteronormative perspective, and I apologize but my point is less about the man/female relationship and more about the self-worth of Black women.

Lessons in Identifying Fuckboys (And Realizing That They’re Not And You’re Just Really Cynical)

So to be clear, I 100% believe in the concept of fuckboys, however, I also believe in the fact that my social ineptitude has bred a cynicism that distorts my social world view, like a lot. If you recall my earlier post about me not believing that my life could ever be like the typical high school/college movie love scenes? Turns out it’s actually very common and I apparently just have a giant stick up my butt from being a cynical hard-ass all the time. ANYWAY, to my story!

I don’t think I’ve shared too many stories on this blog (or much of anything really, sorry!), but sometimes things happen in life that make you think “Wow, this would be really great, I should tell my friends about this” or “Wow, this would be a great plot point in a sitcom”. Recently, I’ve had many of those moments, and I always mean to blog about them, but I never have the chance. Thankfully, I’m a “good college student” who gets her work done early and has no social life so she doesn’t even have parties or alcohols to be distracted by, SCORE! (insert sarcasm here cuz the only thing keeping life from sucking 100% is the fact that I have all my chem work done) But nevertheless, I’ve finally found the space in my day to blog for one of my legendary (and when I mean legendary, I mean rambling and circuitous) stories. So here it goes, the story of me and the FroSoCo fuckboy!

So on a nice sunny day in Stanford, California, September 19th to be exact, I moved into my dorm in Freshman-Sophomore College, stylized FroSoCo, at Stanford University. Now, I vaguely knew the names of roughly 50-60 people that would be living in FroSoCo through a Facebook Messenger group, but many still remained a mystery to me and even their names weren’t much to go by. So that day, I’m anxious to meet all the new people in FroSoCo, and since we were a bit isolated from all the other freshman dorms on campus, I expected the majority of the people I would befriend would be from there (see previous post to see why I was hilariously wrong). The first person I officially met™ was my roommate who, for only the purpose of further explanation of future events, is blonde, super nice, outgoing, and all-around amazing. So I’m pumped because I had spent the last month or so dreading that my roommate would be a weirdo homebody that wouldn’t talk to me or do anything, etc. (basically me rn so I’m a huge hypocrite). Anyway, fast forward to the time when all of FroSoCo convenes to say our official “goodbye” to our parents. I’m standing with my roommate as well as another floormate who, only for the purposes of the next event, was a guy who is very muscular. As the parents finish their goodbyes and we are waiting to be released to dinner, a very familiar blond boy I recognized from the Facebook messenger group darts toward our small group. He immediately introduces himself to both my roommate and my floormate, but noticeably to me, does not attempt to learn my name. He then talks up to the aforementioned floormate about working out and swimming, etc. but then directs his attention to my roommate. He asks to the group to exchange numbers, but once we all take out our phones and pass them over, as soon as he gets my roommates number, his phone goes away instantly. It was this moment that I no longer referred to him by his actual name in my head. He would forever be known as the FroSoCo fuckboy. And do not think I’m being hard on said fuckboy. He had several chances to redeem himself. Let me elaborate.

Several times I’ve found myself in the same room, same group as this guy, yet he exhibits the same telltale behavior. It’s almost mind-boggling how he can maneuver through a large crowded group of people and only engage with those he finds attractive. To me, he seems predatory and self-interested, but to the girls he finds attractive, it’s nothing. It’s the first day and everyone’s introducing themselves to everyone. But I’ve seen this guy’s pattern. Days of careful, unintended observation (I swear I didn’t follow this guy, he was literally just everywhere I was and it was lowkey annoying) reaffirmed my conclusion…until today.

So today, I decided to go to my first Chem optional “outreach” session, where basically we just do some extra problems from lecture. In hindsight, I shouldn’t have gone because I left realizing how much I underestimate my own abilities, or at least my abilities to properly use significant figures and understand 1 amu = 1 g/mol. Anyway, I walk into the lecture room and, because I’m late, sit at the nearest table with open seats in the front. There are two girls there who I thought were athletes (which is an important indicator because all athletes at Stanford literally look like Aphrodite or Adonis). Nevertheless, I was a bit nervous because the last time I sat with two athlete girls, they kinda ignored my presence, but these ones were nicer. I introduce myself and go to pick up a handout after setting my stuff down, but as soon as I get up out of my chair, none other than the fuckboy himself swoops in and chats up the other girls at my table, popping a squat at the last seat of the four person table. Yikes.

At first, I expect this experience to proceed as the past several have. He introduces himself in a kind of serial predatory way, I, of course, am ignored, and he somehow manages to collect their numbers or something, and that’s how it started. However, I soon remembered that I had to labor through witnessing this, while also sitting right across from him, but also having to answer the packet of chem problems and collaborate. Now, I made my way through these problems relatively quickly, as I mentioned above, but as I struggled to make my own voice heard as I was trying to correct one of the two girls’ wrong answers or give my input on how to solve a problem, he actually began to address me and look me in the eye in order to ask for help on problems. It was mind-boggling to me, and it reminded me how ridiculous I was being. Yeah, he was kind of a fuckboy, don’t get me wrong there, but for the first time, he sounded like and seemed like a normal college boy, not a creepy predator future-frat-reject. After he addressed me for the first time, I had no problem speaking to him as if he were anyone else I would be working on problems with (which does not mean comfortably, but rather I’d be able to pipe up after several seconds of hesitation), and I began to rethink whether it was ever right to label him a fuckboy in the beginning (but then I saw him do his routine later in the distance, so the label sticks).

Now, I’m not remotely interested in FroSoCo fuckboy or what his opinion of me is, despite the fact that I’ve written a diatribe on how disturbing I find his behavior and how I may have judged him a bit too much, but at the end of it all, I reached two conclusions. 1) I think it’s pretty interesting how I was able to change my perception of someone after actually meeting them legitimately, and 2) I think it’s pretty poetic and kind of my constant fate, to not ever be noticed for my looks (I’m literally invisible people, what gives. People who look like troll monsters deserve appreciation too!), but rather for my brains/ability.

Fascinating stuff, amirite? No? Yeah, I figured, but I really needed to post more.

Will Anyone Sponsor Me for “Cell Phone Addicts Anonymous”?

Seriously, I’ve hit rock bottom.
It’s not important HOW I lost my phone or WHY my phone is never charged or WHERE I ended up finding it (all of these questions have embarrassing answers that will definitely ruin my street cred). What does concern me, however, is the fact that after 20 hours without my phone, I was already exhibiting pseudo-symptoms of withdrawal. I was an irritable, nervous wreck all day solely because I lost my one connection to the outside world — if the outside world is Twitter and memes. Guys, if I can’t even handle a cell phone addiction, how will I be able to handle the burgeoning Adderall addiction I’m slated to have in my sophomore year of college?!


So let’s just check with WebMD right? Checking off all my symptoms, I’m nearly slated to be suffering withdrawal or hepatitis probably, either one being equally legitimate. 

  • Mild withdrawal symptoms  may include:
    • Intense worry.
    • Nausea or vomiting.
    • Shakiness.
    • Sweating.
    • Feeling a little tense or edgy.

Severe withdrawal symptoms may include:

    • Being extremely confused, jumpy, or upset.
    • Feeling things on your body that are not there.
    • Seeing or hearing things that are not there.
    • Severe trembling

(Ok, these could be withdrawal symptoms or just a normal day in the life…am I right guys???)

I’m trying to be half-serious here. Last night, I nearly cried myself to sleep at the thought of going to school without my phone with me at all times. I reached out for a “phantom phone” multiple times. I spent entire class periods lamenting how I had no means to check the time — while there was a watch tightly fastened to my left wrist and a clock mounted on the wall no more than two feet away from me. I had to schedule three college interviews today, and I nearly broke down when I realized I couldn’t check my calendar for my availabilility. Is this level of cell phone dependence normal? Part of me hopes that I’m not the only person who wails in front of her mother about how she can’t function throughout the day without her phone, but then the rest of me really hopes you’re not as much of a hopeless waste of space absorbed in their phone for 23.5 hours a day like me. 

[Draft Trash] Friends, Romans, Frenchman…

Just as a heads up, I thought that from time to time, I’d post the unfinished drafts that I had saved in here from my long… LONG hiatus! Enjoy!

 

[From January 2, 2017]: Sometimes I get angry at the fact that public school students have such a disadvantage in the college admissions process for top-tier universities.

And then I hear “Friends, Romans, Frenchman, lend me your ears” on the morning announcements and all of a sudden, I understand the bias entirely.

I don’t know what it is about high school, but my tolerance for absolute stupidity has drastically shrunk. Such an abhorrent corruption of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar would have been forgivable —  if it weren’t an announcement written by our school’s Shakespeare Club.

friendsromancountrymanlendmeyourbeers

But in all seriousness, I’ve always enjoyed the inadvertent slip-ups from high school kids that, if heard in isolation, would cause our elders to lose hope for the future. We’re here to learn, right?