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A conversation with ‘Sophomore Slump’

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And you are…? Sophomore Slump? Nice to meet you.  

I have heard a lot about you — been warned about your pitfalls, your twists and turns, your downward spiral. You seem to enjoy quite the reputation.

For those who may not have heard of you, an introduction: Sophomore Slump, meet the class of 2021. Class of 2021, meet Sophomore Slump. Sophomore Slump is a well-known figure on campus, and most upperclassmen are acquainted with him — he has quite the connections!

But, Sophomore Slump, I’m not sure I understand why you’re the talk of the Farm every year. Since settling back on campus after the summer, what I’ve most often been told is that this is going to be the year we will meet. It was said in a foreboding tone every time, and yet there seemed to be an expectation that I express enthusiasm at the thought of meeting you. Does shaking your hand constitute a rite of passage?

Oh, I see. You show us what Stanford is really about. And how, may I ask, do you go about doing that? You seem to be the type who would favor drilling a little deeper into our self-esteem or stirring up our doubts and insecurities. A “wake-up call” is how you prefer to put it? Fair enough, that’s another way of looking at it.

You’re asking what my major is, what I want to get out of life, who I am? These are pressing questions, you’re right, but I think they can wait. Please stop insisting. You know I haven’t figured any of that out yet. I should be certain by now? Some people are and some are not — both seem to be doing just fine.

But yes, it does feel bizarre when frosh ask questions I still don’t have the answer to and expect me to distill some supposedly hard-earned wisdom. Truth is, I have no idea where the ride I’m on is taking me or how I can control the steering wheel. People have higher expectations now, and that makes painfully apparent both how much and how little I’ve changed. Anyway, enough about me.

So, Sophomore Slump, what are your plans for this quarter? Closed doors and a severe relapse of impostor syndrome? I’m so sorry to hear that, I hope you’ll feel better soon. Nothing beats a few good friends and a laid-back evening to get over those pesky second-year blues — you should give that remedy a try; it has worked every time for me thus far.

Well, Sophomore Slump, it was nice to meet you in person. Please don’t take it badly when I say I’d prefer we not see each other again. I need some space, but I hope it won’t be awkward. Let’s get coffee sometime! I’ll send you a When2Meet?

Contact Axelle Marcantetti at axellem ‘at’ stanford.edu.