In every life stage, I’ve always loved sophomore year. Hopefully I didn’t already lose you because obviously, senior year’s inherent assumption of the proverbial throne, junior year’s ascent into the upper caste and even freshman year’s Holden Caulfield-like age of innocence are all notable in their own right. However, for me, sophomore is the year where everything comes together.
Though I actually finished college in 2008, my post-graduation transition has taken longer than expected. I’ve lived in London cleaning up your empty drink glasses to pay rent, rotted at my parents house, got laid off and collected unemployment. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Now that I’ve momentarily figured it out and gotten approximately a year of “real work” (WTF does that even mean?) under my belt, I’m now in sophomore year of “real life.” And while I’m blacking out less, making more money but still inexplicably unsatisfied, the parallels between sophomore year of high school, college and real life are eerie.
Freshman Year: You know what you’re not.
- High school – Jock, academic, overzealous student government douche, goth, Asian or sk8rboi. You tried on different hats freshman year and…you sporting that letterman jacket…not so much. Sorry.
- College – exactly the same as high school except I’d throw frat in there, too. You’ve met and mingled for a year, probably stomached an awkward roommate arrangement that despite your university’s interest surveys and polls, you two were about as alike as Snooki and Stephen Hawking. You sporting those Greek letters? Not so much. Sorry.
- Real life – at this point, you’re probably not going to be a doctor, lawyer or astronaut anymore. Sure, there’s outliers. Like your friend who’s seemingly always studying for grad school (most likely GMAT) or your other friend who realized that their Art History degree from a private school is taking them nowhere and is taking community college nursing classes. Your expectations of a $75k job two years after college? Not so much. Sorry.
Sophomore Year: You get it (kind of).
- High school – you know not to buy a hall and/or elevator pass. Don’t sit at that table at lunch, all the weirdos sit over there. Don’t take that teacher, she gives too much homework. Don’t mess with the baseball guys, they’re like a precursor to frats. Don’t hit on that girl – she knows she’s hot and she’s dating the QB.
- College – you know not to buy books brand new. Don’t sit at that table between classes, unless you want to get pigeonholed as a stoner. Don’t take that professor, she actually checks attendance. Don’t mess with the frat bros, they’re like a precursor to middle management. Don’t hit on that girl – she knows she’s hot and she’s dating the Greek Council President.
- Real life – you know not to buy premium health care. Don’t sit at that table during break, that’s where all the shitty salespeople sit. Don’t work with that person, if shit hits the fan, she’ll blame you. Don’t mess with middle management, they’re like a precursor to executive management. Don’t hit on that girl – she knows she’s hot and she’s dating the CFO.
Junior Year: Way too early to stress out about anything.
- High school – yeah that college thing is still a few years off, so don’t worry, you can just backload all your BS extracurriculars for senior year. University admission directors only really look at junior year and first semester senior year (maybe) so fuck it, try pot. This is the best four years of your life!
- College – yeah that real life thing is still a few years off, so don’t worry, you can just backload all your BS internships and career-related courses for senior year. College recruiters only really look at who you know in the industry and relevant work experience (maybe) so fuck it, try coke. This is the best four years of your life!
- Real life – yeah that marriage/kids thing is still a few years off, so don’t worry, you can just backload all your networking events and resume building projects for later on. Corporate recruiters only really look at the name recognition of your current company and how long you’ve stayed there (maybe) so fuck it, try shrooms. These are the best years of your life!
Senior Year: Failing doesn’t hurt as much.
- High school – try out for the team, even if you’ve never played. What’s the worst that can happen? You don’t make a sports team that you knew you were never good at anyway? There are worse things.
- College – rush a frat/sorority, even if you hate the thought of forced financial friendship. What’s the worst that can happen? You don’t get a bid from your first choice house but you’re still throwing up on charter buses while dressed as a golf pro/tennis ho? There are worse things.
- Real life – apply for that job, even if you know that you are completely underqualified. What’s the worst that can happen? You don’t get an interview for a position you have no business competing for to begin with? There are worse things.
- High school – weed.
- College – coke.
- Real life – shrooms.
- High school – holy shit! Wasn’t last night crazy? Some seniors brought over some booze, there was that epic fight, that cute chick from geometry threw up over the balcony and the cops came! Man, how hungover are you?!
- College – holy shit! Wasn’t last night crazy? Some football players were taking beer bongs, your frat bros owned the beer pong table, that cute chick from Psych 202 threw up while hooking up with your buddy and the cops didn’t come! Man, how’d you get home?!
- Real life – holy shit! Wasn’t last night crazy? Some of your coworkers were taking shots, your boss paid for the tab, that cute chick from HR threw up before getting in the cab and the cops were laughing at her! Man, how’d you get to work on time?!
See what I mean? Eerie.
So even though I’m nowhere near where I thought I’d be at age 24, I was nowhere near where I thought I’d be at age 15 or 19 either. At least I’m consistent.