The sophomore slump is very real, and very hard to get out of. Coming into my sophomore year I was riding the wave of life and having the best time ever. I was secure in all of my friendships, had a great relationship with my family, and my GPA was super high. I had loved every class I had taken thus far and I was sure that my life was all figured out. That was week one of sophomore year. Flash forward to week three and I was slowly spiraling into insanity. I was barely going to the gym, not doing my homework and finding excuses to cancel on my friends. I was questioning every decision I had ever made and I hated every single class I was in.
My solution was not pretty: I basically stumbled through the fall semester of my sophomore year and amped up my party life. I tried to ignore the slump and convinced myself that I had nothing to be sad about because I was living a great life.
At the beginning of the spring semester, I realized a lot of my fall semester had been screwed up and I had been self-sabotaging. I finally admitted that the slump was real and that I was knee-deep in it. Following these 5 tips, I was able to overcome the slump (more or less).
1. Go to the gym.
Exercise is cathartic. I hate to say it because I am a big fan of lying on the couch and watching TV while munching on chips, but it’s so true. I hate running, but I would be lying if I said it didn’t totally and completely change my life. I go to the gym approximately 3 times a week and it was when I started running again that I felt my mood rise and my perception of myself radically change. Set aside 30 minutes – 3 times a week – to make your way to the campus gym and run off some steam. You will be totally distracted from whatever assignments you have looming and all the drama going on in your life while also making your life healthier (physically).
2. Flush your system of toxins.
This is a two-fold process. There are definitely toxins, both physical and emotional, that can really hurt your sophomore year. Try to eat out of the dining hall a few times a month: cook your own meal, go out to a restaurant, or eat a salad.
Taking care of the emotional aspect of your life is a bit trickier, however. Take a good, long, hard look at your life. Are you surrounded by people who lift you up or tear you down? Are you getting as much out of your relationships as you’re giving? If you’re crying over how terrible someone is to you on a weekly basis, it’s time to cut them out of your life. No one is worth your tears and pain. You deserve the best in the world, so don’t settle for someone who treats you badly consistently. Emotional turmoil is just as severe as physical pain. Treat yourself right. Don’t put up with mediocrity in relationships.
To do this, I distanced myself from those who I felt were toxic. I first took the Emojis off their contact in my phone. Then I stopped Snapchatting them first (even if it meant breaking a streak). I would not text them first – if they wanted to hang out with me, they would text me and make it happen. Finally, after all these little things, I began to feel better about myself. I was no longer sad and longing for meaningful relationships because the ones that were meaningful were still there.
Thank those friends who stand by you. Tell them how much they mean to you and how much you appreciate their friendship and kindness. The ones who truly matter will survive the test of time and will reach out and want to continue the relationship. The others? It’ll hurt like hell, at first, but cut them out of your life. In the long run, the toxicity they bring to the table will hurt you so much more than ending that relationship will.
3. Go off campus.
Take advantage of public transit and your school’s shuttle system. If you live in a city, go explore and eat out. There are plenty of places you can eat at on a college budget. I like to go to the movies and escape the pressure of school for a good two hours. Our movie theater has college discounts; find out if yours does too. Sometimes schools do excursion trips to nearby destinations; see if there are any planned and if there are, go on one!
4. Apply for any and all (leadership) positions on campus.
You are now a year older and wiser, which means that you have the kind of experience groups on campus are looking for. The days of freshman rejection are over. You have (plenty of) experience in interviewing and not getting the position, but now you know what people want so you can go in with a fresh perspective. Even if you don’t get what you’re applying for, you can gain more experience and learn how to grow from it. The act of trying for something raises your spirits so much. And an added bonus is getting what you worked so hard to achieve. Plus, you can add to your resume and feel good about yourself when you apply, if you get an interview, and then if you get the position.
5. Do something every day that makes you happy.
At Providence College we call it “happy, crappy, God.” At the end of the day, you want to reflect about the good and the bad (and if you’re religious, a time when you felt faith or God in your life). My goal as of late has been to have at least one “happy” at the end of my day. In making this promise, I have purposely done happy things like eating a cookie in the dining hall or listening to my song of the moment. It doesn’t have to be over-the-top-extraordinary things because “castles stand upon pillars of salt and pillars of sand.”
Surround yourself with things and people who make you happy and you will be happy too. The sophomore slump may be debilitating at times but we can all overcome it.
Songs to listen to when you’re experiencing that sophomore slump:
Viva La Vida – Coldplay
Love Myself – Hailee Steinfeld
Here’s to Us – Kevin Rudolf
Defying Gravity – Idina Menzel, Kristen Chenoweth
Here Comes the Sun – The Beatles
Hakuna Matata – Lion King Cast