This entry is meant to complement the one I wrote prior about being who you are at MIT.
When I found out I got into MIT, I was probably one of the happiest people on the face of the earth. Unfortunately, when other people found out that I’d been accepted to MIT, their reactions weren’t so positive. A lot of people told me to my face, “Bryan, you only got in because you’re (blank).”
And you know what, it really hurt. I’d worked very hard my entire school career, taken the tests, done the research, been involved in extracurricular activities, written the essays, filled out the forms.
“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words may never hurt me.”
For a long time, I questioned whether MIT had made a mistake or was admitting me on the basis of something other than my potential to do well at MIT. For a little while, I even questioned whether I wanted to go to MIT anymore because I feared failure. I mean, I think we all do. No one wants to get on a stage and forget their lines. No one wants to miss the game-winning goal. No one likes losing, and I’m surely no exception.
As mathematicians and scientists, we all like to explain things. No one likes to accept the “it’s just the way it is” comment. We’d all like to explain why things happen. I believe that my experience really reflects the desire for some of the people who made such comments to explain why they didn’t get in. I wish it didn’t happen that way, but it did.
The more dangerous aspect of this situation is not what they were thinking, but what I was thinking. Was I actually supposed to be here? Was I going to be the laughing stock of the Institute?
The answer, simply put, is no.
However, I do say this in retrospect. I had to put up a fight. I felt when I first got to MIT that I had something to prove. I couldn’t shake the words of those who attributed my acceptance to MIT to something other than my qualifications. Even though my grades were my business, I still felt like someway somehow that I had to put it out there that I deserved to be here.
It wasn’t until I started writing this entry that I realized who I was trying to prove it to. I was trying to prove it to myself. I have complete control over what I’m affected by, and I was affected by those words that people said, and I began to actually believe it. As it were, I have high expectations of myself, and thus it’s essentially a double whammy when you’re pushing yourself to the edge
For those of you who like numbers, this year, MIT admitted less than 13% of those who applied. That’s the lowest number that I’ve heard in a while, so for every person who got in, there had to be a reason why MIT accepted you. Think about it this way, MIT has a very strong reputation to uphold. Do you actually think they’re going to put their reputation on the line just to say that they accepted a specific type of person? I think not.
So here’s my challenge for all of you who got in:
1. Don’t take your acceptance lightly. It’s a very admirable accomplishment.
2. Don’t let ANYONE discount your acceptance to any other reason that MIT accepted you because they had faith that you could succeed and flourish here.
For all of you asking yourselves what I asked myself about three years ago, think happy thoughts.
YOU GOT INTO MIT!
For those of you who I will be seeing in the hallways next September, I really want you to remember this:
MIT accepted you because they believed that you would be up to the challenge that MIT provides its students, so with that said, be prepared to give your all and then some.