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For all intents and purposes, the word “sophomore” refers to a second-year high school or college student. However, a quick google search reveals that the word has a more meaningful etymology. “Sophomore” is a hybrid of the Greek words sophos (meaning wise) and moros (meaning foolish). So, where exactly does that leave us sophomores? We are stuck somewhere between cleverness and senselessness. Misguided by the illusion of maturity, we are left to navigate our second year of college.
It’s no secret that Greek life is prominent on Dartmouth’s campus. Enter any residential building, and I guarantee that you’ll find at least one “Animal House”-themed poster of John Belushi chugging Jack Daniels, perhaps an ode to the fact that the film was largely based on screenwriter Chris Miller’s ’63 experiences at a former Dartmouth fraternity. On a typical on-night, you’ll find groups of friends in frackets and dirty sneakers debating whether they will scope out the scene at another frat or head to Collis late night while crumpled cans of Keystones line the sidewalk.
“The grind never stops” — it’s a phrase that is all too familiar to Dartmouth students. It evokes memories of panic-driven all-nighters, seemingly never-ending to-do lists and calendars that just never seem to be empty. Sure, there are times when I find work unenjoyable — when I’ve spent hours on a problem set, and all I want to do is take a nap and maybe change my major. There are also times when work seems completely pointless — when I question if I’ll ever really use any of this information outside of class. Yet, for all of those times of panic, there are moments of passion. There are moments when I’m reminded of what all this work leads to: change: Real, physical, future-altering change. Those are the moments that make “the grind” seem worthwhile.
"Oh, I’d love to visit, but don’t you go to college literally in the middle of the woods? There’s just so much more to do in the city.”
The summer after my senior year of high school was one of the most confusing periods of time in my life. A spirit of change lingered in the air: The calm before the storm. Mundane activities, like grabbing coffee with friends in town, suddenly increased in significance. As friends left home for colleges across the country, the strange thought that nothing would ever be the same replayed in my mind. Perhaps I was being a bit melodramatic, but nonetheless, the nervousness and excitement associated with leaving for college were palpable.
We’ve all experienced the absolute joy that results from cancelled plans. Maybe that time you once allotted for your club meeting can now go toward that coveted extra hour of sleep, or you can get one episode further in your latest Netflix binge. But what happens when cancellations incite more joy than the activity itself? If you’re always excited about cancelled plans, it might be time to ask yourself if you really should’ve had those plans in the first place.
Sitting in the library, surrounded by a mountain of textbooks on Theories of Government, I pull out my phone for some momentary distraction. I begin to scroll through my Instagram feed, mindlessly gazing at all of the expertly edited, effortlessly posed pictures that pop up on the screen. Sipping my cup of coffee, I pass pictures of gleaming bikini clad girls, friends clutching red solo cups and groups of attractive music festival goers. Suddenly my cup of King Arthur Flour leaves a bitter taste in my mouth. How can it be that these lives look so perfect? When do they have free time to do all these fun things? Are they actually happier than me?
My older brother taught me many valuable life lessons: which words not to say in front of my parents, how to climb every tree in our backyard and the correct way to change lanes on a highway. Something he failed to pass on to me, however, was his hatred of birthdays.
When was the first time you realized that you had a voice? No, not the first time your mom recorded you speaking your very first words — when did you decide that those words held power, or that they were capable of having an impact? For some, this realization occurred rather quickly — maybe it was during second grade, when you stood up for the shy kid who was picked on, or maybe you ran for student body president in middle school and encouraged your history teacher to instate no homework Wednesdays.
Long gone are the days of struggling to pick your Top Eight friends on Myspace, engaging in poke wars via Facebook and chatting with your friends on AIM while your parents aren’t using the shared family computer. While social media may have drastically evolved, its prominence in everyday life has only increased. We are constantly connected, engaged in a continuous cycle of posting, reposting, updating, liking and commenting. We feel inclined to update our followers every time we go to Starbucks, visit that trendy brunch spot in the city, walk past a particularly striking tree or go to a concert.
"You write like a boy.”
This summer, I traded my bathing suits and flip flops for business casual blazers and flats. Late nights filled with Netflix binge-watching soon turned into early mornings packed with coffee, subway stops, crowded New York streets and even more coffee. Internship season had officially started, and I struggled to adjust to the fast-paced city lifestyle. Although my quiet, suburban hometown was located only 45 miles north of the Manhattan metropolis, it felt like the two places were in separate worlds.