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Being Sophomoric

By Jennifer A. Gathright

“This must be the sophomore slump,” I thought to myself as I sat, literally slumped, in a chair marked “free” on someone’s lawn in a neighborhood near the Quad.

The first few weeks of sophomore year have been great, but certain parts of it have definitely put me in a bit of a funk. The transition from the glamorous life of a socialite in the bustling metropolis of Harvard Square to a rugged cabin lifestyle in the rural Quad wilderness has been harder than expected. The consequences of treating shopping week like freshman week hit me in the form of a pile of catch-up work that I have yet to fully address. And, until very recently, I found myself absentmindedly lining up outside Annenberg for 12 o’clock lunch on a regular basis.

Other than schoolwork, I did two things of note last weekend. First, I went to a party sporting a sweatshirt, leggings, and my backpack. And second, I acquired a free chair from a stranger’s lawn. I should probably start acting more like a Harvard student and less like a wandering rogue. Sometimes, I long for the days when I cared about my appearance and the cleanliness of my furniture. But, for today, the unsophisticated and vaguely smelly nature of my weekend is one part of sophomore year about which I feel no need to be slumpy.

During most Friday and Saturday nights of freshman year, my friends and I would assemble some sort of plan to go out and see people at parties. Mascara and socially acceptable clothing would usually be part of the routine. This Friday, on our way back to our room after a wild night of p-setting and reading in the Currier dining hall, my roommates and I walked by a party and ran into some of our friends outside. After glancing down at my fuzzy socks and hesitating for a second, I looked at my roommates; we all agreed to enter the dark, drunk room.

The following afternoon, an upholstered chair and ottoman beckoned my roommates and me from the side of the street. And then, almost as if directed by fate, a middle aged woman walked by, stated her credentials as an interior designer, and told us that this was an invaluable piece of furniture we would treasure for the rest of our lives. For some reason, my roommates and I decided that it would be a great idea to take this chair from the side of the street, think about laundering its upholstery, and share it for the next three years. So, we delayed the return to our textbooks and spent the next 30 minutes staving off laughter as we hauled our new booty back to our dorm.

A good friend of mine once said that she loves it when people are “game”—willing to make spontaneous decisions and commit to unexpected things. It would have been easy to shoot out excuses about why it would not make sense for us to walk our messy buns and mascara-less eyes into a room full of cute guys, or why we didn’t have time to pick up a chair that would be unlikely to even fit in our suite. But, in both situations, we were game, willing to commit to something that provided no foreseeable benefit to us (no Gen Ed credit!), other than maybe a glimpse at good-looking boys and a piece of furniture for which we have no use.

So, my roommates and I, along with our heirloom chair, are embracing the sophomore slump. Personally, I am feeling pretty pleased about what is supposed to be the most unremarkable year of my college career. Because as much as life can be about putting one’s best foot forward at all times, it can also be about stepping one’s foot into a party even if there’s a fuzzy sock on it. Or walking one’s feet down the street with an ugly, useless chair.

I am certainly not advising everyone to pay as little attention to appearance and hygiene as I did this past weekend. After all, if freshman year is about trying to figure out how to do Harvard right, then sophomore year is about realizing that there is no “right” way to do Harvard. If we assume this postulate to be true, then it seems the key to success would be surrounding yourself with those who are game to do Harvard your way. At school, I rarely have a good-looking foot to put forward. I constantly wage battle against sleep deprivation, my addiction to HUDS “Funilla” froyo, and my ignorance as to when exactly “Harvard Time” does and does not apply. Add a group of girls with vagabond-like tendencies similar to mine, sprinkle in a healthy dose of peer pressure, and voila! I’m game for (almost) anything.

The word “sophomore” is a compound of the Greek words for “wise” and “moronic.” I find no oxymoron here. After all, it is wise to be a little moronic sometimes, and doses of stupid spontaneity are good for the soul. So, if you’re ever feeling sophomoric, why not go ahead and bushwhack your way to the Quad for dinner ? You know I would be game. And the best part? No mascara necessary.

Jennifer A. Gathright ’16 is a Crimson editorial writer in Currier House.

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