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MIT student blogger Bryan O. '07

Fear of Flying by Bryan

Shake the haters off.

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.”
If only.

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.


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.

7 responses to “Fear of Flying”

  1. Wow. Oh wow. I almost got scared as I was reading this because it’s exactly what I’ve been thinking but haven’t had the guts to address with myself. I definitely needed to hear this, so thanks.

  2. Reg says:

    Your quote ТƒъSticks and stones may break my bones, but words may never hurt me.Тƒщ just reminded me of a book I’ve liked for some time. the book had a similar line:

    “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words may never hurt me.

    Anyone who believes that has never been called a name.” – the misfits, James Howe

    It’s not that relevent to your post, but I felt I would share smile

  3. Anonymous says:

    The revised version is “sticks and stones will break my bones, and words can break my heart.” Great entry, Brian!

  4. Anonymous says:

    aww..that was a great entry. We (the accepted) all deserved to get into MIT.

  5. Nichole '10 says:

    “Unfortunately, when other people found out that IТƒфd been accepted to MIT, their reactions werenТƒфt so positive”

    I can really relate to this.

    Thanks for such a wonderful entry!

  6. Benjamin says:

    This is a post I am happy to say I cannot relate to. All of my friends were happy for me and with me when I found out I was accepted. I’m glad I was lucky enough to have a good, supportive group of friends!

  7. For me, it was split 50-50. Those around me who’d gotten into their top schools were incredibly happy for me (and themselves), beaming. Those, however, who were going to not their top choice or, heaven forbid!, their safety were very unhappy and started about how I didn’t deserve to go to MIT.