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MIT student blogger Veronica M. '22

Balancing Act… by Veronica M. '22

...or not

Every day at school feels like a delicate balancing act that is sometimes hard to maintain, and I live in perpetual fear of messing it up even in the slightest because that will Interrupt My Rhythm and Ruin Everything. This is just me being a hopeless perfectionist. MIT has forced me out of my comfort zone in this sense by forcing me to deal with my fear of failure. My first few weeks at MIT have seen me pick out the major items in my balancing act, namely my five classes, my library job, my acapella group and basic life necessities such as eating and sleeping. Some days are rougher than others, and more often than not I find myself putting sleep and meals on the back burner (pun intended). My classes and all the shenanigans they involve deserve a longer post than I can do right now, so I’ll leave that for later. For now, I want to make a list of some of the slight mishaps I’ve had to deal with stemming from my brain being overloaded.

  • Convinces my roommate to go grocery shopping with me to Market Basket. This involves going on the Red Line to the Davis then getting a bus to Lechmere from right outside the station. We both have not bought American sim cards at that point hence no cell reception, but we decide to wing it anyway. We make it to Davis, but then get on a bus headed in the wrong direction and almost end up in Tufts. No, we did not make it to Market Basket eventually. No happy ending here. I’m sorry. We barely managed to make it back home.
  • Underestimates the rain pounding outside and wears sneakers. Walks into a deep puddle on my way to Stata. Gets to my recitation class with cold feet, literally.
  • Runs out of milk and groceries. Is mid-week hence no time to shop. Lives on fruit loops and free pizza for two days. Hurray for Google Information Sessions, the Terrascope kitchen and the free-food mailing list.
  • Squeezes a Target trip into a 30-minute break between classes. Realises at the check-out counter that I hadn’t actually carried any cash or card. Mind you, Target is a good 15 minute walk with the afternoon sun blazing. Abandons shopping basket and just walks out of store in frustration.
  • Has a few minutes between classes to get some breakfast. Makes cup of coffee to drink in my lecture. Sits down in lecture hall and stares at empty hands as it slowly dawns on me that I left my coffee in my dorm room.
  • Ten minutes to my 9 am Physics class. Frantically trying to make breakfast. The tea, omelette and tomato slices are a success, but I totally forget about the bread in the toaster and only realise I cremated my toast when I smell it.
  • Five minutes to my 9 am Physics class. Sets toaster on fire by putting buttered bread right above the heating bars (it’s a barbeque-style toaster). Doesn’t even notice- luckily, fellow hall member intervenes and saves the day.
  • Warms leftover dinner in microwave on semi-metallic plate. Sparks fly, microwave nearly fried. I’m lucky no one is around this time or else they would definitely have kicked me out of my hall at that point.
  • Schedules 15-minute resume review with a Career Advisor. Forgets to print resume. Tries pulling it up on my laptop. Computer gets just as overwhelmed as I am and totally freezes. Upon restarting, it begins updating God-knows-what software, and as I walk back to EC I consider tossing it into the Charles.

And then there’s my cooking fails. I’m not on a meal plan for reasons that Yuliya explained at length here, so sometimes when I get bored of living on oreos, M&Ms and hastily-thrown-together half-burnt sandwiches, I try to cook. And sometimes I actually make a palatable meal. Other times:

  • Burns my chicken. Upon trying to eat it anyway, discovers it hasn’t cooked at all inside. Incident leads to fellow hall member suggesting I try dealing with boneless chicken as it cooks more evenly.
  • Tries cooking boneless chicken. Burns my chicken again. Smell draws several concerned hall members to the kitchen. Small advising meeting is held. Hall member tries convincing me to go vegan.
  • Burns rice. Puzzled hall member wonders why I don’t use a rice cooker. Tries to explain that we Kenyans like continuously tasting our rice as it cooks to ensure it is, in fact, cooking right.

My balancing act is terrible, and it’s easy to let anxiety take over, but little things like the free ice cream in my hall’s fridge and my calculus TA reaching out to offer help with reviewing my midterm (which didn’t go so well) makes things look a lot less bleak. Will I manage to pull this off? Stay tuned- one way or another, we’ll find out.


And here are some wholesome memes, just because, you know. Memes are life.