When people talk about sophomore year of high school, they say it’s the “best” or “worst” year–in either case because it’s the “stable” one. “Best” because freshman awkwardness is over, you’ve established a group of friends, and, even better, you don’t have to think about SATs, ACTs, or the big word: COLLEGE. “Worst” because you are literally stuck in that awkward 15-to-16-year-old stage, living with your parents and siblings, you have a crush on that girl who’s taller than you or boy who’s shorter than you, and somehow parts of your body are growing faster or slower than you care to acknowledge.

Unlike high school sophomores, most college sophomores do not live at home, they’ve left their SAT/ACT scores behind, and their parents are not constantly looking over their shoulders. Yet amongst those newfound freedoms of living with friends, sophomores in college are dealing with the essence of what it means to be a college student. Probably the most common question besides “What college do you go to?” is “What are you majoring in?” That question is so exhausted that we have all gotten to the point where we introduce ourselves and identify ourselves based on our (assumed) majors.

But what is college about, besides learning to live independently, experimenting with relationships, and creating bonds with others that will (hopefully) last a lifetime? College is about figuring out what your passion is, regardless of what your grandmother may want you to do or what your mother says you must do. As freshmen, we are encouraged to try new classes, maybe fulfill some of those SLQ requirements, and branch out with extracurricular activities.

But as sophomores, the college path becomes a race track. Before you know it, the study abroad application deadline is right around the corner and classes for next semester are open and you need to finish that paper and study for that test AND be happy and social with your friends.

Many students enter college with a clear sense of a few subjects they are interested in, while many others enter with a long list of subjects ready to be checked or deleted. With 4 years, 8 (or 7, if you study abroad) semesters, and typically 32 classes in your college career, it seems as though a new student has endless time to explore. Between the summer of freshman and sophomore year, that nice calm feeling is destroyed by a large ticking clock that somehow turns weeks into days, days into hours, and hours into minutes.

When new interests are discovered and old ones are left behind, it is undeniably the feelings of frustration, sadness, and panic that overwhelm you under that huge ticking clock of sophomore year. You feel like you’ve wasted the past year delving into subjects that you convinced yourself you were interested in or that you stupidly let your dad pressure you into taking. Why did I take that Bio class that whipped my ass and lowered my GPA to unacceptable? What possessed me to try that English class that required an essay every week? When did I think that math was easy when in fact my Japanese class was easier to understand?

The reality is, sophomores, it’s okay to feel that constant thumping heart and it’s okay that it took three Environmental Science classes to realize that it wasn’t your thing. Yes, time is on the opposite team, but stop and take a breath. You may feel the social pressure to double major and minor or triple major, all while your friends are advising against a double or triple thesis saying that your senior year will “suck,” but here’s the deal: if you truly feel passionate about a subject, one that you want to explore no matter how many hours you must dedicate, go for it. College is about discovering you. It’s not about your parents, friends, or siblings. This is your time to acknowledge that little voice inside your head telling you that visual design is your calling when all along you thought it was acting. Drive off that racetrack, take the batteries out of that ticking clock, and let your passions roam free.