I started this year expecting the sophomore slump, the pseudo-depression that comes after the fast pace of freshman year. The common theory is that as freshmen, we were fascinated by the countless opportunities Yale offered, and getting used to them as sophomores makes our college experience somewhat less exciting. As someone who did not have the most amazing freshman year, I was not sure this would be the case for me. But, respecting the authority of the upperclassmen who described the phenomenon, I was anxious that the slump would hit me as well.
It turned out that my intuition was right. Relieved from the challenges of adapting to college freshman year, I started with a blank page. Last year, the newness of everything was overwhelming rather than stimulating. Even learning to sort out emails took me more than a semester. It was simply difficult to balance academics and extracurricular life while trying to make this place my home.
My life changed drastically sophomore year: I moved out of Old Campus, I had new suitemates and I chose a different major and career path. It made me feel like I was starting all over again. Like a freshman, I signed up for more than 10 panlists at the extracurricular bazaar, trying to balance new activities with old ones. The soothing feeling of familiarity that typically bores sophomores instead opened my eyes to the vast opportunities I had as a Yalie.
But everything comes with a cost. There are few nights when I get back to my suite before midnight, as I spend my evenings going from meetings to libraries, from info sessions to debates. I never complain because I like everything I’m doing. But at the end of the day, when I get back to my suite, I feel a hole in my life.
My days lack interactions that aren’t in the form of meetings. Dinners are the only times when I have fun conversations with my close friends, but obviously, those have to be scheduled in advance. And right before I go to sleep, I tell myself that next week I will take on less. Yet the next morning, I start my day by checking my email and Facebook, scrolling through campus events and putting them in my calendar.
Living my life at this pace might be preventing me from falling into the sophomore slump, but I’m realizing that it also means I miss out on the everyday interactions that make me feel human.
In high school, my father used to tell me that the best type of break was the so-called “active resting,” where you put aside your problem set and complete reading for another class. His obsession with constantly working annoyed me. I would keep watching my favorite TV show, resisting the idea that I should write a book summary for my literature class in my precious spare time. Yet now, removed from my father’s efficiency-focused mentality, I find myself doing exactly what he advised: managing my calendar while hanging out with my friends or filling out an another application form while waiting for section to start. In high school I would watch multiple episodes of Prison Break on my weekends, but now I get frustrated by such an idea — I’m always thinking about the three other tasks I have to complete.
I’m not trying to say that all Yalies cram their schedules in this way. Yale has all sorts of people, and not everyone is actively trying to stay busy. I know people who will not miss a single meal with their suitemates for any activity, and that’s great. I also know some people with hectic schedules that they love, and that’s also great. But there are also people like me who constantly run from one place to another and never spend a single minute doing “nothing” — we feel lost in our lives at Yale and yearn for a comfort zone at the end of the day.
Maybe the sophomore slump is a good thing. It shows us that our lives are so settled and convenient that we don’t feel like changing them. As boring as it might sound, it gives us a sense of belonging and peacefulness. Figuring out how to balance our lives might involve giving up some of the things that keep us so busy in order to create memories with our friends. I think this balance is worth finding.
Nur Eken is a sophomore in Jonathan Edwards College. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.