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Erick P. '17

 

Early morning on December 5th, 2012, my family and I drove up to MIT for the first time. I had signed up for the Shadow a Student program, where I would follow around a student for a day to get a feel for MIT life. And I fell in love with it. I wanted to go to MIT more than anything else in the world. I had already submitted my EA application a month earlier and Decisions Day for me was on December 15th. But I was saddened as I walked down the Infinite Corridor, had lunch in the Student Center, and marveled at the Great Dome while standing in Killian Court. I was sad because there was a chance that this wouldn't be my life, and that if I did get into MIT, it would be against all odds. Even the most generous of "chance me" scorers would only give me a 50% chance of getting in, reducing getting into MIT to a coin flip.

On the ride home, I listened to a small playlist of songs I had thrown together for the ride. As The Pretender by Foo Fighters came on, I felt something resonate within me. I played it again. And again. And again. Each time I played it, I felt a tiny fire inside me grow larger and larger until I was overwhelmed with a sense of inspiration and a desire for greatness like I wanted to work harder than I ever could before and do great things with my life. I didn't want to give up and I wanted to never surrender. I didn't know if I was gonna get into MIT, but despite that uncertainty I was going to continue giving my best every second of my life. And each day for the next ten days I listened to that song over and over and over until Decisions Day.

The Pretender is a song about making a resolve to go out there and get what you want. And to deal with whatever life throws at you, no exceptions. It asks who you are. It demands to know who you are. It's about finding your inner strength to move onwards. Move onwards from failing, from setbacks, from heartbreak, from getting fired, from being rejected. Why? Because you're not like the others. You're not a pretender, you're the real deal. What would the rest of your life look like if you chose to never surrender?

I'm not sharing this song or this story with you tonight only because I feel it's something you might need to hear. I'm also sharing this with you because tonight I need to hear it for myself. You see, earlier tonight, as I was getting ready to study for my two finals next week, I received an email telling me that the final exam grade for one of my other classes was posted online. I was nervous because this exam determined my final grade for the class. I had studied extremely hard for this exam for days, making sure I understood each concept, but it was still one of the hardest exams I've ever taken and I had to use everything I knew to do the problems. I failed. The most effort I have placed into an exam since coming here resulted in the lowest grade I've ever gotten. Doing preliminary calculations, I've failed the class. And with my current MIT track record, I cannot afford to fail this class and have to re-take it next semester.

Today I feel how you feel. I don't know if I can still pass the class with an make-up or extra assignment or not. And I won't know until tomorrow when my professor contacts me back. And for a couple hours I felt depressed, angry, and saddened at myself, this failure, and how it could negatively impact my future. It was really hard news getting that failing grade when I have two more finals on Monday and Tuesday. I'm not doing well in either of those classes either. But there is nothing really I can do right now except study anyway. Or quit. But quitting is not an option for me.

Your life's legacy does not start nor end with MIT. You must empower yourself to move on. Work hard, play hard, do want you want, and if someone doesn't let you into their school, go somewhere else. Press onwards. Whether you get in or not, after decisions, listen to this song (or another song) but listen deeply. Close your eyes and let it move you. Then get to work.

Now I'm inspired. Now I'm going to go study for the two most important finals I've had in my life.

-E

 

Keep you in the dark
You know they all pretend
Keep you in the dark
And so it all began

Send in your skeletons
Sing as their bones go marching in again
They need you buried deep
The secrets that you keep are ever ready
Are you ready?

I'm finished making sense
Done pleading ignorance
That whole defense

Spinning infinity
Boy, the wheel is spinning me
It's never ending, never ending
Same old story

What if I say I'm not like the others?
What if I say I'm not just another one of your plays?
You're the pretender
What if I say that I will never surrender?

What if I say I'm not like the others?
What if I say I'm not just another one of your plays?
You're the pretender
What if I say that I'll never surrender?

In time or so I'm told
I'm just another soul for sale, oh well
The page is out of print, we are not permanent
We're temporary, temporary
Same old story

What if I say I'm not like the others?
What if I say I'm not just another one of your plays?
You're the pretender
What if I say that I'll never surrender?

What if I say I'm not like the others?
What if I say I'm not just another one of your plays?
You're the pretender
What if I say I will never surrender?

I'm the voice inside your head you refuse to hear
I'm the face that you have to face, mirrorin' your stare
I'm what's left, I'm what's right, I'm the enemy
I'm the hand that'll take you down, bring you to your knees
So who are you? Yeah, who are you?
Yeah, who are you? Yeah, who are you?

Keep you in the dark, you know they all pretend

What if I say I'm not like the others?
What if I say I'm not just another one of your plays?
You're the pretender
What if I say I will never surrender?

What if I say I'm not like the others?
What if I say I'm not just another one of your plays?
You're the pretender
What if I say that I'll never surrender?

What if I say you're not like the others?
(Keep you in the dark)
What if I say I'm not just another one of your plays?
(You know they all pretend)
You're the pretender
What if I say I will never surrender?

What if I say I'm not like the others?
(Keep you in the dark)
What if I say I'm not just another one of your plays?
(You know they all pretend)
You're the pretender
What if I say I will never surrender?

So who are you? Yeah, who are you?
Yeah, who are you?

Foo Fighter - The Pretender Lyrics

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