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The Daily Tar Heel

Column: How you can survive the sophomore slump, too

Photos courtesy of Adobe Stock.

"Slump," verb: To fall or sink suddenly. 

Alternate definition: When students who have just survived their first year fall into a rapid overtaking decline. Everything feels disconnected, motivation doesn't exist, frustration is high and grades are low. 

This is, of course, the "sophomore slump": a period where college life isn’t living up to the newness of our first year. 

Yes, it is real. If, as a sophomore, you’re questioning whether or not you’re in it, it's probably safe to say you’re in it.

Side effects include burnout, potential academic decline and loss of morale. Everything is hard. You’re feeling beaten down and tired. You ask yourself, "Why didn’t I feel this way last year?" or "Why do I feel the need to compare this year to last year?"

It’s human nature to grow attached to a routine. I still vividly remember the air freshener scent of my first-year dorm and the fall playlist I stayed loyal to while walking everywhere on campus. 

I only knew UNC through those attachments. I only knew of living in my dorm and I only knew of mediocre dining hall food. In the beginning weeks of this new year, my sophomore year, it felt like I didn’t know how to do college because I wasn’t in my usual routine. 

This is normal. You don’t need to feel enthusiastic about going to a frat party where “No Hands” by Waka Flocka Flame will undoubtedly play — you did that last year. You also don’t need to feel embarrassed if you still want to do those things; they were fun last year!

But to attempt to get over my slump, I had to acknowledge that I’ve aged out of some experiences. I also needed to grasp that becoming an adult continues to get hard ⁠— even after what some argue is the hardest year away from home.

So, the idea came to me: what if I tried to make each day a little different?

My mission became to make every day a unique UNC day. I wanted to prove to myself that there were still firsts after my first year.

So far, it hasn’t been hard (or costly) to make my seemingly mundane days of study-eat-scroll different: 

I went to both a women’s and men’s soccer game. These were my first soccer games in my life. 

I revisited a favorite on-campus spot, The Meantime Coffee Co., but decided to order hot chai instead of the usual iced oat milk latte.

I started going to the Student Recreation Center, a gym I was too scared to venture to last year. I began challenging myself to even meet new people by attending group exercise classes. Cardio dance has become my favorite. 

Adding an extra special activity, even if only for an hour, has separated each day from the next and helps me remember the magic of the new and the old. I’ve come out of my slump by embracing that I was even in it.

Candidly, I never thought I would say goodbye to the honeymoon phase of college. I had to acknowledge some good things may not stay the same, but there's also still so much good to come.

@dthopinion |

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