I never expected the shift from freshman to sophomore year to be so drastic. Living on North Campus again makes me feel like I am part freshman, and walking the extra five minutes down Thurston was the only distinction I initially noticed. I still walk along the same Thurston Ave. bridge (although now also occasionally the Suspension Bridge) to class each morning feeling like an assembly line worker, I still spend most of my time in Ives, and I still pull all nighters before the deadline for an assignment.
Yet over the past few weeks, I’ve noticed that there’s actually quite a big distinction between freshman and sophomore year. Above all else, I have developed a sensation of being somewhere in the middle of nowhere. I am not young enough to be protected in a secluded block of residence halls on North Campus. I no longer have room for too many mistakes, knowing that each action I make in the next couple of years has its own potentially severe consequences upon my life and career. Neither am I old enough to be considered to be on the brink of adulthood. I have developed an urge to apply to as many internships as possible out of an overwhelming sentiment of anxiety, only to find that there are very few open to sophomores. I am left feeling insecure and lost, not knowing how to define myself.
Along with this identity crisis comes a relationship dilemma. Not the traditional girlfriend-boyfriend drama, but a concern for the relationships with family, friends and acquaintances that I have built before and after my Cornell endeavors. In terms of family, I’ve realized that the more I stay away from home, the more distant I am getting. While this may seem obvious to some, it really didn’t hit me until the last couple of weeks. As this past summer was my first summer break as a college student, I expected to feel welcomed and reintegrated back into the nest.
Oddly enough, I received beyond mere welcoming, which made me feel like a stranger at my own home. It was almost as if my parents were giving special treatment just like they would to a guest that would leave within a couple of days or weeks. I also thought I would be able to integrate back with little difficulty. But I was wrong. It felt as if I didn’t have enough of a place in my own home. This wasn’t just due to a lack of personal physical space. It was seeing with my very own eyes that our house had moved on without me that I remembered the need to move onto a new segment of life, whether I was ready to do so or not.
The difficulty of maintaining friendships was another hardship I have faced upon return from break. I had presumed that it would be difficult to keep up with middle school and high school friends because no matter how connected we are through social media, having a face to face interaction makes all the difference. What was more alarming to me was the struggle to even retain friendships on campus. Back in freshman year, I would easily come across at least a couple of friends in dining halls and the simple task of asking how they’re doing made a big difference. However, sophomores are now separated across Collegetown, West and North. Even within the same campus, living in different areas and lacking the ability to see each other has reduced a feeling of intimacy.
The transition from Year 1 to Year 2 of college was abrupt and relentless. I feel unprepared to accept changes but don’t yet know how to move on and be an adult. Instead of trying to overcome such concerns, the best I can do at this point is simply face the discomfort and embrace my present self without judgment.
DongYeon (Margaret) Lee is a sophomore in the School of Industrial and Labor Relations. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Here, There and Everywhere appears alternate Tuesdays this semester.