Today is the first official day of my Christmas break. I finished the first semester of my sophomore year of college with five finals in three days.
I am exhausted. Mentally, physically, and emotionally exhausted.
I dove headfirst into my second year of college with all of the high hopes I held onto after freshman year ended. I was ready to share how awesome college was with the incoming freshman. I was ready to be back with my friends, my small group, and the college community in general. I was ready, y’all.
Like all things you miss, coming back to them is exciting. It’s comforting. And the aspects of college I missed were all of that for a short period. I felt like I was back where I needed to be.
But, coming back to college is also like all of the blood rushing to your head. It happens so fast, and for a second you’re blinded from everything. Welcome week is always stuffed so full of activities that you can hardly see straight. Then you reorient yourself, and fall back into a routine, and you have a headache, and all you can really say is, “ugh.”
This semester has been my headache-induced, “ugh.”
I’m not going to lie to you, I’ve struggled with a seemingly never-ending list of problems this semester. Whether it was academic, motivational, relational, or any other “al,” I probably was hung high and dry because of it at some point over the last five months.
I’m not going to turn this post into a “here are all my problems, please pity me and make me feel better,” because that’s just not what I want to do. I’m capable of dealing with my issues with the help of the people closest to me. I do, however, want to lend a few words of advice that I’ve received over the course of my “Sophomore Slump.” Because we’ve all been there. We’ve all reached that point in our life when we’re thinking, “What the heck am I doing? Where am I going? What does my future hold? Why does everyone else seem to have their life together? Why is mine falling apart?”
Here’s key number one: No one, literally no one, really knows what they’re doing. That’s plain and simple. Yes, people have goals, and people have jobs and families, but everyone figures life out as they go. No one on this earth knows the secret to life. No one knows for certain what their future will hold. So, stop telling yourself that everyone around you is pristinely put together. We are all flawed. We are all broken in different ways. We all struggle differently. Thinking you are the only one is incredibly isolating, and you can dig yourself a big ol’ hole by doing that (trust me, I’ve been there numerous times).
Here’s another important piece of advice: You don’t have to have everything figured out. This is so so hard for me to accept because I’m a planner. If I could be personified into an inanimate object, I would most definitely be a calendar. A calendar with every detail of my life written down. I cause so much unneeded stress because I create rigid plans for myself, and when those plans change, I basically fall apart. That has been a semester-long process this time around, because I started to get an unnerving feeling that I’m not pursuing the right major. I’m not as passionate as I thought I would be at this point in my college career, and it scares me to death to think that I might have made the wrong choice somewhere along the way. I’ve had one of those rigid plans for my career since I graduated high school, and the thought of it falling apart is terrifying.
There have been two huge realizations I have come to in the midst of this, though.
One: Talking to people who have gone through your same struggles is incredibly liberating. I talked with peers, friends, and advisors about my anxiety, and they helped me gain better perspective. I met with an advisor (she knows who she is) today, and she reminded me over and over again that I don’t have to know the answer right now. It will come to me someday through experience and learning, and that was incredibly comforting. She told me, “If you focus so much on finding the answer, you’ll miss living the question.”
Two: God is listening to me. I can’t even tell you how many times I talked to God throughout this semester. I can remember so many specific moments that I had mentioned something I was struggling with to God the previous night, or week, or month, and he would stop me dead in my tracks to show me that he was working on it. He was showing me that he heard me, and I cannot tell you how much peace that brought me. I may not always have a person to talk to about something specific, but I know God always has his ears open. If this semester has been a testament to anything, it’s the reminder that God is with you even when you’ve dug yourself a hole you don’t think you can get out of.
I’m glad this semester is over. As always, I constantly reminded myself that the turbulent times are paving the way for something beautiful, and that was the only thing that got me out of bed some mornings (if I’m being 100% honest there were some mornings I decided sleep was more important than class–sorry mom). I’m still a little stuck, but the great thing about being stuck is that it forces you to evaluate your surroundings. Doing that has helped me appreciate the beauty that really does lie in my day-to-day life.
I’ll end with some snapshots of that beauty, because that’s what I want to remember.
“I don’t have too much to say, except for the change in the weather.
Today is the same as yesterday; stuck in a sophomore effort.
There’s so much I don’t know.
Don’t know why we fear the change when we’ve only just begun,
Because with fear comes hope the same, and tomorrow’s gonna come.”
-Ben Rector, The Sophomore