Nearly nine months after getting into MIT, one question I continue to ask myself is "am I in the right place?"
How do we know when we get there? Exactly a year ago from today, teachers and classmates insisted the right place would be the one with the right "fit". I know by September, college applications have rolled around—this gorgeous month usually comes along with a big helping of the word "fit". At this point, it's a buzzword. Fit is something with a million different meanings, highly subjective and incredibly vague. A good fit is a place where you feel completely natural, where you can focus your efforts on achieving instead of diverting part of it to maintaining something you are not. The idea of fit is something that possibly determines your happiness across multiple facets of your life--how well you fit in at school, at work or at home affects more than we'd like. But when you find that true fit, that perfect place for you, it's much easier to be happy.
In terms of colleges, I had no idea what the right fit felt like until I visited MIT in April for CPW. Long story short, I ate an obscene amount of liquid nitrogen ice cream. I made friends who weren't afraid to spout Maxwell's equations in regular conversation and then go back to talking about Jersey Shore in the same minute. I saw an incredible display of talent from down-to-earth, friendly peers just a few months or years older than me.
I wasn't convinced I was a right fit at MIT until I talked with my CPW host Erica, the most amazing 2014 you ever did meet. She told me that at MIT, everyone was "the smart one" or "the ambitious one" in high school—sometimes that's all they ever were. But because everyone already shared that at MIT, people shined for other reasons—my host was already known as "the funny one" among other things. (The awesome one?)
That was my light bulb moment about MIT being the right fit for me. Fit is an experience and a quality that varies for everyone, but in the end you can't imagine yourself anywhere else.
You're probably thinking, "Damn it, Connie. You still didn't explain what fit means."
You're right. I could never really put it into words until I went through sorority recruitment last week, when a senior explained what "fit" meant to her. She told us that we should look around the room and see if we could find pieces of ourselves reflected back at us. Could we see facets of ourselves that we would always hold true, as well as facets we would like to have from sisters we could look up to and admire? If so, we were in the right place.
In the upcoming months, look for those pieces of your current self and the pieces of who you want to be whenever you must look for the right fit--be it among friends, clubs, schools, groups and so on. If you can find those pieces, you're probably in the right place.
I have, and I haven't regretted it since.