To all of this year’s applicants:
Pi day is long gone, and after 6:28 p.m., you probably experienced a barrage of feelings. These might include pain for being rejected, joy for being accepted, anxiousness for being waitlisted, and a whole spectrum of feelings in between. I remember doing a couple of anxious dances and taking a few deep breaths before I opened the webpage which told me whether or not I was accepted. You would think that by the way I was feeling, I had been determined to go here since the age of womb-dom.
Now that I look back on it, though, this roller-coaster feeling process was all silly. Inevitable, maybe. But it was silly nonetheless.
Let's be frank, during my freshman year of high school, I had no idea what MIT was. It could have been in Michigan or Maryland for all I knew or cared. College? Yeah, it was something that I was eventually going to have to think about. All I really knew was that I liked to learn. I liked challenging myself, and I liked to ask questions. I liked growing intellectually. I liked building things! With food! I liked pondering, and I liked the word just as much. I liked the idea of being an engineer or scientist or something like that. I liked being busy all the time. I knew that NOVA was the absolute most inspiring television show to watch, ever. I liked sharing ideas with people, seeing their reactions, and hearing their opinions. I knew these things. I knew the stuff that I was made of.
Now fast forward to today and what is on my mind. Today, I’ve got a bajillion things to do. And today, I will not finish all of them. Today I wonder why I was so excited about having been accepted, and I’ll yawn, wearily. Today, I’ll work. Hard. I’ll go tutor. I’ll go be tutored. I’ll make food. I’ll plan next week. I’ll think, wow, how is the semester almost halfway over?! I’ll acknowledge the fact that I have tests soon. I’ll think a lot of things, and sure, I’ll worry. Just as you all were worrying and may be worrying about your futures, whether you got accepted or not.
But every time I get to thinking this way, EVERY single time I start to worry about my future or begin to wonder why I’m here, I think of the one thing I do know.
Good old freshman me. I know who I was as a freshman in high school. She is me at the core. She is enough to make me smile and keep on going with more passion than before. She is why I make sacrifices and choose the right instead of the easy, focus, and essentially, she is why I am right here, right now. In the voice of your mind….
(Sorry, I’ve always wanted to do that :P)
Seriously though, the vast majority of you who applied did not do so on a whim, but rather because there was something you wanted to experience. A good, hearty challenge? Being inspired? Research? Perhaps you just really wanted to hack? There are a plethora of reasons.
But no matter what the reason, I just want to say that I am proud of all of you applicants for simply applying. Whether or not you realize it, you proved to yourself that you could go out and follow your dreams just by having clicked the submit button oh so many days ago. A simple and bold first step:
I’m not going to lie, I’m not this person all the time:
So I mess up. I fall asleep. I get tired and sore. I’m human. You, too. Being accepted into MIT or any college will most definitely not get you through it. And being rejected does not mean that now, all hopes for accomplishing anything are lost.
Either way, no matter what applicant “category” you now fall under, I have one piece of advice. Remember your “freshman selves”, if you will. Remember all that is important to you—what you like doing, what your values are, what inspires you, what makes you tick.
Once you get in touch with who you are, you’ll realize nothing else matters. If you look back at the sum of your experiences—if you look back on who you have become, you’ll see that this person will be enough to keep on motivating you and guiding you up and ahead—beyond what you may have thought was possible.
I’m assuming that, especially after writing all of your college essays, you know who you are—what you’ve lived through and what you’re made of. If you remind yourself of this intriguing, truly unique individual every time the goin’ gets rough, you should suddenly hear a wonderful voice in your mind. The simplest, best, most real voice ever:
Gosh darn it, I have one heck of a life to live.
And then after a blink or two, in my case, anyway, Supermassive Black Hole by Muse starts to play in my head.