Over the years, I have discovered that just about anything can be used as a metaphor for life, and that it’s highly unoriginal to come up with supposedly clever sayings about boxes of chocolates, games of cards, onions or riding bicycles (have fun looking these up).
Of course, that doesn’t stop me from starting this entry explaining why I decided that life, or at least life at MIT, is like snowboarding.
You may or may not know that I absolutely *LOVE snow. I love snow more than MIT loves acronyms. I even love it more than Paul loves hacks (though I don’t love it quite as much as I love DUSP. But still, it’s a lot).
So when I found out that a snowboarding PE course existed over IAP, I jumped at the chance to throw myself from high places with just a piece of plastic attached to my feet. I had never snowboarded before and the last time I skiied was middle school, but I figured that if Johnny Tsunami could do it, then it couldn’t be that hard.
Alas, it turns out that Disney gave me unrealistic expectations about snowboarding, and I have the bruises to prove it. My left arm has a bruise that looks like black death, it still hurts to sit down from all the times I fell on my poor, poor bottom, and I’m pretty sure that yesterday I permanently restructured the shape of my skull when the back of my head slammed on the ground. The ski patroller asked me if I was alright and jokingly asked me how many fingers he was holding up. I panicked for a split second when I actually didn’t know how many – but then I realized I had just lost my glasses in the fall. It’s okay, I found them, and the guy was holding up three fingers, which I probably could have guessed because everyone always holds up three fingers when they’re asking how many fingers they’re holding up, but it’s too late now – he probably thinks I lost my vision forever.
Now, I realize that a certain stereotype prevails when it comes to nerds and their athletic ability: they have none. (This belief is largely due to, well, people like me. Sorry guys.)
But actually, it’s not true. In fact, there were several students in my snowboarding lesson that would often be able to do things on the first or second time without, um, losing control and ending up sliding down the hill way farther (further? does anyone really know the difference?…Of course, now I’m sure I’ll get multiple notes from people that actually do) than we were supposed to, and there are even some people that already *know* how to ski or snowboard and don’t even need to take lessons and in the ice skating PE class I took last semester (hi, ice skating classmates) there were people who were really really good at not falling as well.
I wasn’t one of them, but that’s not the point. Well, actually, it kind of is the point. Whatever.
Okay – this is the part where we get into the cheesy, reflective stuff, so listen up:
When (if) you come to MIT, you might feel kind of like I do when I’m snowboarding. You might not be as quick at learning J-turns or organic chemistry as other people and sometimes you might start to resent those students that already seem to know everything. And sometimes you’ll fall as soon as you try to get up and it’ll hurt, and other times you might not fall but things (like, say, your board, or your physics class) will go faster than you’re comfortable with and you’ll just hope to God that the snow at the bottom of the hill is soft (it wasn’t. The real snow, I mean, not the metaphorical snow. Although technically, because of the unusually warm weather we’ve been having, it was actually fake snow. Real snow is probably softer than chemically-altered chunks of ice).
But that’s okay, really. Because the bruise on my arm is a great conversation piece (“Oh my GOD what happened?!” “I was snowboarding and-” “You snowboard?” “Er, I try…”) and falling is a good way to learn to laugh at yourself (not that I ever really need any more excuses to laugh at myself, but just in case I run out).
HOWEVER, (and this is where my advice goes a little beyond the standard “it’s okay to make mistakes”) it is not okay to keep making the same mistakes. You can’t just tell yourself “Oh, well, I’ll do better next time,” but not actually change anything the next time. I did this a lot last semester. It didn’t work out.
So next Tuesday during snowboarding, I think I’ll set a goal, of, say, only falling 15% of the time as opposed to the current….50%? ‘Cause as useful as my bruise is for making lasting impressions on people I meet, I think I’d rather they remember me for being that one girl who’s really good at snowboarding instead of that one girl who thinks it’s cool that she’s really bad at it.
*In fact, while Snively opted to play with snow indoors because it was “too cold,” I spent four hours outside building an igloo with a couple of my friends.