Skip to content ↓
MIT blogger Cami M. '23

Always Rooting for the Anti-Hero by Cami M. '23

it's me! hi! i'm [the problem?], it's me

where i am

Since the beginning of the fall semester of my senior year, I’ve felt a decided shift in the air. I’ve mentioned it before, jokingly referring this period as my “nice era” to my friends. In this new age, people feel a lot more tolerable. The world is a lot more colorful. Things aren’t upsetting or exhausting, but exciting. I’m not sure what caused it or who to thank, because God, I really do want to thank the entity that allowed this, but it feels like, for the first time, I am whole.

I’ve historically been known to be somewhat of a firecracker on campus. Whether it be my aggressive commenting style on MIT Confessions01 A Facebook page run by MIT students where we anonymously confess things typically related to MIT or its culture. Yes, it's just as immature as it sounds. or my behavior when I’m irritable and you’ve happened to catch me on a bad day, my strong personality traits seemed to dominate my every interaction. Even at my happiest, there was still this looming blanket of anger or sadness underneath it.

I noticed the change this year when I walked into New Vassar dining hall at its peak hours. The line stretched all the way out the door. There were no open tables available. I waited in line for 20 minutes.

Normally, irritation would itch at me, pinpricks on the skin. “God, why are all these people fucking eating here? Who even are they? WHY is she sitting like that? Oh my God they’re so LOUD.” Things like that.

But as I walked around, cocking my head up and down to find some table to sit at, I found myself thinking, “Wow, I didn’t realize there were so many people here. It’s kind of nice out of all the places there are to be at this time, they chose to be here.”

And I stood there for a minute, laughing to myself a little, dumbfounded by the fact that my brain could even conjure up something so genuine and truthful (although in writing it comes across as sarcastic).

I’ve been like this ever since, and the change is palpable. It’s often quoted in my friend group, whether jokingly or seriously. “Cami’s in her nice era.” or “Wow, Cami really is in her nice era.”

We’ve recently introduced a couple new people into our friend group, since relationships are so dynamic and fluid. One of them is Savoldy, an M.Eng student that was originally friends with Julian Y. ’23 and Mikey I. ’23. I knew of them briefly last year, but didn’t really befriend Savoldy until this year.

We often get dinner as a friend group at Baker dining02 Freshman year Cami would be absolutely shocked to hear this since I didn't step into Baker until my junior spring. and we’ll sit there for hours and hours just talking and shirking off work.

At one of these dinners, Savoldy exclaimed to me, “Dude, you are just. So nice. You, like, really just light up a room.”

To which I quickly replied, “Oh, I’m just in my nice era. Trust me, if you knew me well before this semester you would not be saying that.”

And I said this, I felt a little sad. Was this, in fact, just an era? Is this all temporary? Will I slip back into my old self?

where i’ve been

For the past five years, I’ve made it my New Year’s resolution to be kinder, before scoffing a bit in disbelief. It felt so pathetic to have to think so hard about being kind.

When I first started watching Avatar: The Legend of Korra, the follow-up series to the pop culture hit Avatar the Last Airbender, I really disliked the titular character, Korra.

“She’s such a hothead,” I complained. “If she just fucking talked about her problems instead of always just getting angry, maybe she wouldn’t be here in the first place!”


Eventually, Korra did indeed get better. One of her main development arcs (from what I remember, maybe this is still just projection) is Korra’s need to learn how to channel her anger and stubbornness into productive energy. To still keep the spark that makes her her, but use it intentionally.

I find that Korra and I are similar in that manner, where we both entered our four season series not really knowing what to do with ourselves. I knew I was outspoken — I was a loudmouth that never quite understood time and place.

My friend, Mikey, recently recapped the first time he met me. “Yeah, I remember seeing you in 03 Physics E&M 8.02 and you were just so angry. Every time you’d enter the classroom, you’d just always be complaining about something. Every time.”

And it’s true! There was always something to complain about, it felt like. I had felt so betrayed by MIT at that time: this place that I had built up in my head, that I lauded to be the cornerstone of STEM development, was unnecessarily difficult, with classes so hard that it seemed to beat the self-esteem out of students.

As I reflect on my old self, I see a lot of it was just driven by fear. I don’t think I was truly really comfortable with myself until this year. I think a lot about my freshman year self, who was so afraid to speak up in class. Who felt fear every time my friends talked about concepts that seemed to go way above my head. Who was afraid of even playing a chess game because she didn’t like the prospect of losing.

Every where I went, it seemed that fear and anxiety colored my experience, and so in retaliation, I overcompensated. I became the rapid-fire loudmouth that just said and did whatever was on her mind. And that was that.

And every time I heard whispers of “Well I hear Cami’s really mean”, I just hardened my resolve even more. “Who cares what they think?” I would say angrily to myself. “Who cares? And so what if I’m mean? Maybe that’s just me. I have friends that like me, I think.”

Then I would sit there, unhappy and dissatisfied with the image I’ve put out, but unsure if it’s even possible to change it.

where i’m going

I would like to give my previous self some credit, though, because without her I wouldn’t be at this point. At our core, we’re the same person. We still call people out on their bullshit. We still viciously defend our friends. We just execute on these things a little differently, use different methods to accomplish our goal.

I’m proud of the progress I’ve made as a person. I’m able to do the things my old self couldn’t. I can be loud and cringey in the dining hall, talk about my niche interests without fear of being judged. I can approach anyone and everyone and talk them up without social anxiety or fear.

There was a part of me that feared that being kinder would soften me, would make me less vigilant and tenacious in holding my beliefs or standing my ground. Yet I’ve found the opposite to be true.

Now, I hold my ground even stronger than before, knowing that there is no ill will or wrath driving my actions, but genuine belief in my argument. There are no personal attacks or impulsive scathing remarks that I will regret, only things I truly mean.

And though I don’t know whether this truly is just a phase or not, I’m happy to even be living it, to feel life feel lighter and more full for the first time.

I think I’ve spent a lot of myself as some sort of anti-hero, where I just do these bad things or negative things simply because that’s who I believe myself to be.

But in these past months, I’ve come to broaden my understanding of myself and realize my full capability. I am not some sort of anti-hero in my own story. I am not forced to be cast as the villain in other people’s stories. It is never too late to grow or change. To opt to be kinder.

  1. A Facebook page run by MIT students where we anonymously confess things typically related to MIT or its culture. Yes, it's just as immature as it sounds. back to text
  2. Freshman year Cami would be absolutely shocked to hear this since I didn't step into Baker until my junior spring. back to text
  3. Physics E&M back to text