Overcoming the Sophomore slump

A “slump” is defined as: a period of substantial failure or decline.

Now, if you ask me, this definition is very frightening. We’re not just talking about failure but substantial failure. Failure is a scary enough word itself but to put substantial in front of it just makes things that much worse.

Ok, first-years, I’m not saying you’re doomed to fail in the Fall, don’t worry. I’m just saying, be prepared for a slight lack in motivation. The weather’s hot and sticky, you’re busy catching up with all of your friends, some of whom you haven’t seen for three months and school is just simply not your priority.

That’s how I felt, at least. Also, making the adjustment back to life at college isn’t the easiest thing in the world, so I thought I would give myself a bit of a break. That “break” ended up lasting almost two months. Midterm grades came as a bit of a wake-up call. Here was where I found myself peak slump. But, as a slump implies, there’s only one way to go: and that’s up.

Throughout the end of October to the beginning of November I made a conscious effort to get it together. I established a routine and wouldn’t allow myself to leave A-quad until all my homework due the next day (at the least) was done. I carved out time each day, beginning a week in advance, to prepare for exams. It’s the little pushes, as I like to call them, that form constructive habits.

I call them pushes because you sort of have to push yourself to do it and as unnatural as it may feel at first, with enough repetition you will be able to do these things without ever having to think about them.

Another important thing to consider with the slump is our attitude toward failure and how easily we can get discouraged. So, maybe you didn’t start out the year right away on the best foot. So what? Tomorrow is Day 1. Think of everyday as a clean slate: a new opportunity for you to form habits that will benefit you in the long-run. College is four years of constantly learning and growing, so don’t kick yourself if you don’t get it right all the time.

A really important thing to learn during these four years, is when to know to give yourself space and when to self-discipline. As I mentioned before, you can’t get frustrated with yourself every time you mess up. Mistakes are how learn and grow. But, there comes a point when you have to do a little soul-searching and ask yourself: “What could I be doing differently?”.

Knowing if you’re on the right track might not be  as obvious as you’d think, and that comes with confidence in knowing yourself. You can ask your friends and family for advice on pretty much anything, but ultimately bettering yourself comes from making decisions that are right for YOU and no one else.

Sophia Bellone ‘21 is a creative writing and communication double major from Chicago, Illinois.