What do you desire? What gives you purpose? This type of internal questioning can be found in everything from ancient philosophy to a seemingly innocuous Rick and Morty episode. In the latter instance, Rick creates a machine that produces “Meeseeks” used for a single task, who then disappear. However, when one cannot fulfill a task, it notices a lack of direction in its short life and descends into psychotic fits and depression. It’s a metaphor for a life without purpose — or your potential slump.
College is a time of exploration — emotionally, socially, academically — and sophomore year is a time to keep exploring while actively searching for purpose in all of these arenas. It’s incredibly important at this youthful stage in our lives to question ourselves, and often, to find out what really makes us tick as individuals.
In order to enjoy yourself socially, do you love meeting new people, branching out, learning about one person on a deeper level, or learning more about yourself? What field of academics do you really lose yourself in — is it architecture, investments, coding, or writing poetry?
With your third semester comes a busier schedule, more rigorous classes and professors, and greater on and off campus commitments. Compared to freshman year, when everyone lived immediately next to one another and had fairly open schedules, we lead much busier and more structured lives. So, if you’re feeling teases of the sophomore slump and your life seems a bit overwhelming, my recommendation is to find that one activity that really gets you going.
The most common mistake in this pursuit, specifically with regard to academics, is the critical distinction between an activity that makes you excited and one that makes you employable. Many of my peers at Brown have expressed genuine desire to pursue business or finance, and the majority of them are well-intentioned and truly excited about the prospect of a summer internship on Wall Street. However, it’s important to determine whether you’re excited about the activity itself, or the prospects of what it brings (i.e. CS/Econ/Business professions correlate with higher wages and in turn a supposedly better life). There are genuine reasons to choose an activity for its prospects, but it’s critical to acknowledge why you’re engaging in that activity. In my opinion, it simply doesn’t make logical sense to not enjoy what you’re doing for the possibility of a better life only doing the same thing.
In order to shift this personal and societal paradigm, find your passion at Brown. What gives you this purpose could be spending hours in a RISD studio class, reading about ancient Byzantine civilizations, creating a social venture, or following a not-conventionally-academic pursuit like BOC hiking trips. Whether you already know what you love or have yet to discover it, it’s essential to try new things. A common response to “do what you love” is a simple “I don’t know what I love,” a fair response, but a cop-out nonetheless. This mentality that “what you love” is a dream can limit your opportunity for experiencing inner growth and finding what excites you. Branch out, try new classes, get off the Hill and wander downtown, walk into storefronts and engage in conversations with the owners, find an activity that you can get lost in, and figure out what gets you going.
Having an open mind can help you find your drive, and soon you’ll find yourself immersed in a passion in which the hours fly by, and in that moment you’ll know that you’ve found what makes you, you. In my view, the perfect remedy for sophomore slump is to find your purpose both at Brown and in life, while learning that being comfortable by yourself and having an open mindset can open more doors than you could ever realize.