Clumpy, Grumpy, and Slumpy: Suddenly Finding Myself A Sophomore

This August, I came back to Kenyon before even the incoming first-years arrived, unable to spend even another minute at home and itching to get back into Kenyon life. I was both an Orientation Leader for new students and a Tour Guide for prospective students, officially the authority on Kenyon life, and I was ready. Finally, I was in a position to discuss the reasons I love Kenyon (and there are so many), introduce all the resources we have, and help other people succeed in this place that until then I had (largely without thought) considered myself successful within.

Spoiler alert: I realized pretty quickly that I don’t have it all figured out, or even close.

Between Orientation and Tour Guide training, I sat in seminar after seminar with folks from the Career Development Office, the Center for Global Engagement, the Counseling Center, the Office of Student Engagement, and dozens more places I barely even knew existed. All I could think was, wow, I should use these. And I probably should. I love all the resources the CDO offers, and I would love to use their alumni network for internships or job shadows, but I haven’t even stepped foot inside to ask about it. I love our study abroad opportunities and can talk about specific programs and countries that I would love to visit while at Kenyon, but I haven’t gone to the CGE to talk about them. I know I should make an appointment at the Counseling Center, but I keep forgetting. I know I should apply for more program funding from OSE and help organize cool events through clubs, but I keep sidelining it and never following through.

And because of this, because there are so many resources, opportunities, talks, classes, organizations, and stuff on this campus and I can take advantage of perhaps max three in any given day if I really squish them in, I feel tired. Lethargic. A little guilty, like I should have my priorities straightened out better and my interests focused more specifically, like I should know what I want. But I don’t. I still don’t 100% know if I can double major in the way I want. I still don’t know if I can study abroad while double majoring. I still don’t even know what I want to do post-Kenyon, though I maybe have some ideas forming.  

These are all the offices and services Kenyon lists on its website. Many of them are incredibly cool. I will definitely not use that many of them. The spreadsheet makes me stressed.

It isn’t just me. It’s the sophomore slump: the looming, vaguely referenced, but not entirely defined phenomenon I had heard before this year, but never believed would happen. The New York Times defines it as the awkwardness of the in-between space: no longer a first-year excited about everything here, old enough to be somewhat disillusioned or at least have settled into a routine, but not yet old enough to be studying abroad, taking high-level major classes, leading prominent student groups (in most cases), or feeling like you really do have this Kenyon thing down pat. You’re just stuck.

That context is important, for me and for others. I might feel like I should already be where I envision myself, but I don’t have to be. There are so many others like me who are still actively exploring what they want and how to get there, and that’s okay. That’s good. Learning how to feel uncomfortable, how to find motivation even when it seems elusive, and how to persevere is an important part of growing as a student and person. It doesn’t invalidate my authority to speak about Kenyon or introduce other students to life here; if anything, it proves that you don’t have to be “successful” to be successful here. You can experience confusion and exhaustion as a necessary part of determining what works for you and taking advantage of the opportunities you do end up choosing.

So, I’ll get there. I’d like to hope. And in the meantime, I’m going to keep trying to take advantage of Kenyon’s opportunities. I’m going to make myself a counseling appointment. I’m going to apply for club funding. I’m going to attend the talks I can, the meetings I can, and the office hours I can. And I’m going to get more comfortable realizing that I also can’t always do that, that sometimes I need to skip the speaker that looks amazing, miss the info session, ask for an essay extension, and accept that I don’t have it all together. I might not ever study abroad. I might not ever use the CDO’s job shadow program. And that’s 100%, absolutely, genuinely, just fine.

 

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