Today, winter left Boston. I woke up and found that the snow had melted, the ice had mostly thawed away. The streets were clear and the air was warm. I walked around without a hat or gloves and didn’t feel the slightest chill.
Things change quickly, sometimes.
One thing that hasn’t changed is my personal proclivity towards “doing things”: whether it’s taking on a new project, writing a computer program, or putting together a well-organized spreadsheet. I’m always looking for ways I can improve what already exists, always eager to make progress on the goals and projects I care about. But that attitude has drawbacks, too – sometimes I get easily frustrated by lack of progress, or by people who seem more content to talk rather than do. On more than one occasion, I’ve taken on more responsibilities than I could actually handle – and I’ve been trying especially hard to avoid doing this in the future.
For a while, I’ve been trying to come up with a word to succinctly describe this aspect of my personality. A few weeks ago, I realized that the word I was looking for was results-driven, or maybe just driven. Either way, I think it fits.
I think it’s this part of my personality that’s secretly behind my not-so-secret love for the Internet. Things just happen so much faster online, with a sense of immediacy and a let’s-do-it-because-we-can attitude that you rarely find in “real” life, except maybe in start-ups. And in a sense, I think many of the attitudes of the computing culture has spilled over into the culture and attitudes of MIT in general (which probably explains why most MIT students are compelled to check their email at least once every hour, on average). Or perhaps you could argue that it was the culture of MIT, which provided the cradle of the Internet, that spilled over into the Web culture at large.
More likely, the truth oscillates somewhere between those two poles. I feel that the culture of MIT is, almost by definition, in a constant state of flux, subtly altered by every new technological trend or novel school of scientific thought, shifting slightly but perceptibly throughout the years as each new class of students arrives and makes their mark upon the Institute. By saying this, I don’t mean to say that administrators, and professors, and all the other hard-working individuals at MIT don’t make their mark as well – but the changes those people bring to MIT often end up being many levels abstracted from what students actually experience and do “on the ground,” as it were. And so the most significant changes students tend to see and care about are, as far as I can tell, those that occur in their living groups or their clubs.
Originally, I wasn’t entirely sure what this entry was going to be about, or why I was writing. Now I think I know what pushed me to write it: my fraternity initiated our latest pledge class last December, and I still hadn’t fully come to grips with what that meant. In my opinion, initiating someone into a fraternity means more than simply completing a rite of passage. It means entrusting them with your traditions and your secrets – with the very future of your house and brotherhood. Sooner than I can possibly imagine, the people I know of as freshmen now will become sophomores, juniors, seniors, ascending the totem pole of experience and responsibility.
And tonight, I realize this and accept this truth completely and wholly, just as the brothers who initiated me last year must have, and I begin to look forward to another year, another class of MIT students who will go out into the world and do things.