NGUYEN: Beating My Second-Year Slump
But I Digress

I am the epitome of the sophomore slump. When the year began, I was keen on buckling down hard on academics, knowing that I had left a few extra GPA points left unclaimed last semester. The semester started off better than I expected; my classes were more rigorous than before, but they were no challenge for my new work ethic. I actually did all of my readings, I finished essays weeks in advance and I surprised both my professors and myself by going to office hours. I heard a lot of talk about the sophomore slump but refused to believe it was real. I finished my first wave of midterms confident that I put the nail in the coffin of the sophomore slump myth.

However, my GPA thought otherwise. Grade after grade plunged my GPA into a free fall. Combined with the pressure of the Georgetown culture to constantly keep busy with pursuits such as seeking internships fostered stress that required every fiber of my being to suppress and disguise it with a smile. All of the activities that I once enjoyed became stressful. I stopped enjoying soccer, which I had always loved, because it wasted time that I could dedicate to studying. Working for The Hilltoss had defined my freshman year experience, but I found myself avoiding the store as much as I could this semester. The slump not only affected my academics, it consumed all parts of my days.

Around this time, my friend asked me to join her Rangila dance group because they needed an extra dancer. Since I obviously had no regard for the concept of being too busy, I agreed. I continued to struggle with my grades, but having a three-hour practice once a week to salsa and spend time with an interesting group of people that I would not have otherwise met took my mind off my stress.

Following one particular practice, after getting back my second round of midterms, I had a reawakening. I reflected deeply on what truly mattered to me, and realized that my GPA was not very close to the top of the list. My family came first, so I began calling my mom whenever I could. I wanted to take care of my physical health, so I cleaned up my diet. But then I convinced myself that I valued happiness more, so I ate more pizza. My peace of mind seemed important, so I began meditating in my room between classes.

I replaced my assigned ethics readings with poetry and news because I could develop a stronger morality through my own interpretations of the arts and current events than by analyzing Kant. I even skipped four classes to see Bernie Sanders speak because sometimes you can learn more by not attending class than you would in the classroom.

Academics still held significant value to me but not in the same sense as before. I wanted to learn for the sake of self-improvement, so I stopped competing with my GPA and began to compete only with the person I was the day before.

Most importantly, my epiphany made me realize that the privilege of going to Georgetown lies not only in the opportunity to learn at Georgetown; it lies in your fellow classmates as well.

The people I have met here will go on to be some of the most successful people in their respective fields of study, but they are also some of the most insightful, amusing, helpful, interesting and loyal people I will ever meet. From my Hilltoss family to my Salsa Masala family, my roommates to my classmates, time and time again they have reminded me that I should look up from my homework and engage with as many people around me as I can. Hold on to the people you meet here and strive to meet as many people as you can, because those relationships will take you much farther than a number that inaccurately measures your efforts and academic performance.

We are each going through our own struggles and slumps, but we can overcome them simply by recognizing where we are and whom we are with. The standards we have placed on ourselves have created a culture of pressure to succeed, and it has grown to be overwhelming. But by joining a Bollywood dance group, working at a salad shop or pursuing any of the innumerable opportunities to meet new people that Georgetown offers, it becomes evident to us that we are surrounded by people who are genuinely willing to help us, by an abundance of chances to be better than ourselves and our situations, and by constant reminders that we will be all right.
The slump, no matter when it happens, is nothing more than a slump, and every slump will eventually curve up again.


Lam Nguyen is a sophomore in the College. This is the final appearance of But I Digress this semester.

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