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Worms, Revisited by Paige B. '24

a reflection on decisions from here

Song: Ramblings of a Lunatic by Bears In Trees

Two months ago, I wrote about four-dimensional worms.  Specifically, the philosophical notion that people exist through time in the same way we do in space (for instance, younger you is a part of you in the same way your arm is). Hence, four dimensions.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot recently when it comes to Decisions, both yours and… y’know… not yours.

See with this notion, to recap from my other post, comes the idea that you are who you were (i.e. yourself any time in the past), but you aren’t yet who you will become. And, as a consequence, who you become is deeply entangled with every version of yourself throughout time, for better or for worse.

I applied to be a blogger for MITAdmissions two times before I was accepted. The first time I was rejected, I felt like I had done something wrong. Like my four months (albeit a short amount of time) of blogging was for nothing because it didn’t pay off in the way I had wanted it to. And I really wanted it to pay off. I put a piece of myself into that application, one that was fragile and vulnerable. So when I wasn’t accepted, I felt this “piece” breaking, just a little bit.

I was sad.
I felt hollow.
And a part of me wanted to stop writing entirely for a month.

I thought back to all of the things I had done leading up to the first application. I had worked so hard, and for good reason. I liked writing. So, keeping that in mind, I pushed forward out of spite. I planned to apply again the following year.

The second time I wasn’t accepted, I had more writing experience to reflect upon. I had been blogging for over a year. And over that year, the spite transformed into passion. I liked writing. My four-dimensional worm included a year of writing. I still felt a bit hollow as I did the first time. But this time, I knew more about who I was and am.

I’m usually the sort of person to either hold onto a passion so hard that it becomes a big part of my life, or I let it fall to the wayside after a short period of time. This has been true about mathematics in my life, it’s been true about my love of education, and, now, it was true about my blogging. And that passion, wasn’t going to go away any time soon.

The piece of yourself that you put into your application to MIT, if you chose to apply, likely highlights your passion for somethingAnything. Sure, there might be people who don’t get why it’s your passion (cough cough every person who tells me they hate math)– but you get it. You might’ve even had this passion for most of your life. It might feel like something you did was wrong if this passion didn’t pay off in a way you had envisioned.

But what I want to tell you, is that you didn’t do anything wrong.
All of you went out onto a limb when you applied here and that’s brave.

There might be a voice in the back of your mind telling you that “maybe you shouldn’t even have applied”, but really, that version of yourself no longer can feasibly exist. The version of you that chose to apply and did/didn’t get in/got deferred, is a part of who you are now. It’ll stay with you. That might feel terrifying right now, especially if the results make you feel sad or a bit hollow, but I choose to believe that this is just one moment. Just one three-dimensional slice of your constantly expanding four-dimensional worm. And where you go from here, is up to you.

Evaluate your passions. Why did you start loving them in the first place if you ever did? Does this passion light a fire in you to keep pushing forward, usually? I mean sure, right now it might feel like the fire is a bit dimmer than normal, but if it makes you happy, keep pursuing it. If nothing else, out of spite. There are so many places to pursue your dreams, and you will find your own. And one day, that spite might turn into a true, unwavering, deep, part of yourself.

Song: Everybody Wants to Rule The World by Tears for Fears

“Whichever choice [they] make, [they’re] going to end up a different person.”

–Petey circa 2016 in one of my favorite Admissions blogposts.

The reason I think about life through these worms so much, is because I’m someone with a lot of regrets and worries. I try not to be, but my brain just likes to poke and prod and ask “what if instead you had chosen to not do *insert thing that became a fundamental part of my identity and life*.” But the worms keep this part of myself in check.

Because I’m not who I could’ve been. I will never be. Sure, you can change paths, though sometimes the path you want to take lies in the hands of other people. But the *pure fact* that you’re going through what you’re going through right now, means that it’s going to stick with you. It stays a part of your four-dimensional worm. You may wish, as humans are often inclined to do, that you could know each and every possibility before you make any decisions, but you can’t be everything all at once.

You can just be you. Right now, right here.

That doesn’t make the grieving/wondering over different paths any easier right now, but hopefully (and I am optimistic this is so) one day it will be. And you’ll look back on your four-dimensional worm and think about how much you’ve grown.

Writing has become a part of my life in ways I haven’t quite expected. At first it was a fun little hobby during the pandemic, but really I was gearing up for four straight years of MATH. But then I found myself writing more and more. I got to use my thoughts on math and philosophy and emotions to create a lens I can use to view my worm. I get to see how I’ve changed over time. I get to remember the good and the bad.

MIT, and I imagine life in general, is really hard, y’know? For many reasons. But for one thing, you can’t do everything. You can’t take every class, and you can’t fully stop yourself from getting sick, and you can’t always avoid feeling alone or sad. Life is just so often out of our control. But taking time to reflect, for even just a minute, about how much you’ve changed and how much you’re going to change can remind you of how much is within your control.

It’s within my control to write about four-dimensional worms. It’s within my control to take four cool math classes in the spring. It’s within my control to try and do things I feel passionate about.

With the many things out of your control, keep in mind what is within your control too.

I leave you with one of my favorite quotes.

“Believe in yourselves. Dream. Try. Do good.”
“Don’t you mean do well?”
“No… I mean, do

Boy Meets World.

You’re going to do great things.