Opinions, Column

The Sophomore Condition

People change. That’s a big part of what college is for: self-development and personality exploration. These are the years we decide who we want to be, and more practically, who we are going to be. As a second-semester sophomore, I have an important perspective on this formation—sophomore year is the “puberty” of our college experience. During sophomore year, we have the opportunity to look in the mirror and decide if we want to stay on the same path.

Coming into college, I was an entirely different person than I am now. I was organized and always had a plan. I made a to-do list every day, and I checked every single item off without fail. In high school, my life was scheduled to the minute, with countless clubs and extracurriculars to ensure my acceptance into a top-ranked university. I had only a few friends, and my life was basically planned around my goal of becoming a politician. I had never been to an actual party, (and my family wouldn’t allow me to anyway). I was naive and optimistic about the world.

So, how has college changed me? Due to the fast-paced weeks, I no longer make to-do lists unless my week is packed. In fact, I am averse to making any kind of plans. Plans seem too constrictive. Instead, I like to live life more spontaneously. Through my time at college, every plan that I have made has not come to fruition. I have the best time when I just go out and do things instead of anxiously executing everything in a certain order. But my optimistic self fades a little more each day as the realities of adult life settle in—like financial independence and the increasing intensity of job hunting. My once-assured future seems to get more blurry with every passing day.

These changes are not necessarily good or bad. They are just different. At this college halfway point, however, I can decide how these changes affect the person I will become. I know I am now against planning everything—this can either allow me to embrace the unexpected, or it can make me disorganized and unambitious. 

How can I distinguish between the good and bad ways that I have changed as a person? How do I decide to use my evolving mindset and personality traits? To me, it all comes down to the people we associate with. 

I once heard a quote that stated, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with,” and it has recently been ringing in my ears. In college, our friends help form the person we will become. This is the time we decide whether we like who that person is and whether our friends are shaping us well. 

Stop for a moment. Think back to your high school self and ask if they would be proud. No, really. Look to the closest mirror and imagine you are staring at the same person who opened that Boston College acceptance email. Their bright smile is staring at you right in the face, their eyes full of hope—praying they succeeded in everything they wanted you to become. 

When I look into this “sophomore mirror,” I imagine my high school self with my glasses that were too big for my face, my overdone side part, and my librarian braid. Would she be happy that I have decided to stop overplanning and let life flow more naturally? Maybe not, per se. She would be excited, however, that I am enjoying new experiences and I’m finally understanding what it means to live on my own. Of course, she would want me to be a little more focused on my future and possibly study more for the multiple midterms I have around the corner. Still, I’m expanding my perception—and I think she sees that as a win.

Overall, I have things I need to work on, but so does everyone. Luckily, as part of the Sophomore condition, I can make these changes now. The whole point of this moment of reflection is to decide if the changes that college and our friends have made to us are good or bad. Take a second and look into the mirror and ask, “Am I on the right track?” 

March 19, 2023