All the adversity I’ve had in my life, all my troubles and obstacles have strengthened me… You may not realize it when it happens, but a kick in the teeth may be the best thing in the world for you.
My second year at UCI started just as optimistically as the last, yet that was where any similarities between those two years ended. I had finally finished my GE requirements and I was finally dabbling in real engineering courses. I was coring (being mentored/partially co-leading) for a small group in the Edge (my fellowship) and I had moved to a new apartment that was much more isolated than the previous year’s dorm. The year had come off to a rough start as there had been a roommate subleasing fiasco earlier that summer and the repercussions of that incident were still being felt.
In my fellowship, the Edge, there is a division in the ministry set apart specifically for freshmen. The freshmen generally receive special treatment in the form of meals, love bombs (random gifts of boba or snacks), and many upper classmen offering to hang out or drive them places. I don’t think there is anything wrong with this freshmen pampering but it does give rise to an interesting phenomenon dubbed “the Sophomore Slump.” The “Sophomore Slump” as defined by my fellowship is as follows:
Sophomore Slump: the period of time proceeding freshmen year in which sophomores feel a noticeable decrease in attention and special treatment that often leads them to withdraw from the community.
Now I don’t necessarily agree that all second years experience this, but I do believe that for many the sophomore slump is no joke. If one didn’t make an active effort to stay plugged in and to initiate getting to know people, the sheer size of the Edge made falling off the radar all too easy. Now, before there is any confusion about the title of this post, I did not experience the “Sophomore Slump” as defined. For me, the sophomore slump was a lot more about academics.
My second year was the year in which I did many things that I swore that I would never do. Sophomore year was the year in which I would get D’s in three classes. It was also the year that I would get placed on academic probation. It was also the year that I violated my probation contract and would be forced to leave the school of engineering.
But it was also the year that I would change my major from electrical engineering to business economics.
During my first year I remember looking on my peers who would change majors with disdain vowing that I was going to “stick with engineering even if it gets difficult.”
There’s this verse in the Bible about pride coming before destruction, and all I can say is that nowadays, I am much slower to pass judgement on others for fear of being a pharisaical hypocrite.
Now while my second year was most definitely an academic catastrophe, it is ultimately evident that God never abandoned me. He used people, counselors, and divine appointments to prove to me that He had never left my side.
There was Ellen who would sit and just listen patiently to me whining about my struggles in life and being in engineering. Thanks for just lending your ear and giving me music to study with.
There was Joyce who would worship jam with me with our makeshift capos. Thanks for being down.
There was Matty who taught me so much about perseverance and loving on people with how he lead the small group. Thanks man for being so transparent and vulnerable.
Thanks Brandon and Anthony for coming over to my house, eating with me, and just talking about life. I miss you both so much, and I wish that I had kept in touch better.
Thanks Joy for point leading banquet with me and for being down for our testimony swapping and random dance practices for AAYA.
Thanks Brian, Vanessa, and Joyce for allowing me to be a part of your MOCA performance.
Thanks Adam for putting up with my loud music and for the thoughtful conversations.
Thanks Christine for letting me come over and crash when I needed a place to retreat to.
Thanks Gagan, Shweta, and Charvi for being down to play card games to relax.
Thanks Mom and Dad for being supportive of me even as I was floundering in the world of academics.
Thanks Mary and Hannah for reminding me of my identity and for being the best sisters I could ever ask for.
Thanks Dr. Wong for initiating meeting with me and encouraging me with your counsel.
Thanks Celina for writing me letters and for visiting me as a surprise.
Thanks Grandpa and Grandma for encouraging me amid all the chaos of that year.
Thanks Caleb for putting up with my random popping into your apartment.
Thanks Eric for going to the ARC with me even though I was terribly inconsistent.
Thanks Beefy for being down to talk about doctrine, theology, life, and girls with me regardless of the time.
Thanks Jared for randomly coming over and surprising me with your presence and your time.
Thanks God for allowing my sophomore year to happen as it did. I know without a doubt that if the happenings of my second year never occurred, that I would not be the person that I am today. I got a lesson in pride and humility that was much needed and more importantly I learned the importance of both clinging on to the truth of God’s word regarding who I am in Christ and being plugged into a healthy community that encourages and uplifts.
Now, to paint a fair picture that does not have the imperfections filtered out, I most definitely must mention that I have never been as self loathing and depressed as I was during the latter half of my second year in college. I definitely felt depressed and I struggled heavily with my self worth. As I sat in that counselors office as they informed me that they were kicking me out; as I sat in that empty Chinese restaurant as my parents told me that they were willing to let me just drop out and come home if school wasn’t working for me; as I laid in bed alone at night staring at the ceiling afraid of what the future held, I could not help but hear voices reminding me of my imperfections and highlighting how much of a failure I was. It was a dark season, and yet there was a glimmer of hope in the favorite verse of my at the time, dear friend Celina:
But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.