i recently experienced my first weekend at mit with classes finally in session and i have…an assortment of feelings. i guess my last post was a lot of feelings, but there’s a lot of feelings still. too many feelings.
i spent the entirety of my saturday afternoon psetting for only One class: 8.01. i walked into 8.01, not exactly with optimism, but not with pessimism either. i took physics c mechanics in high school and did great the first semester and did average around that second semester. so, yeah, i had a background.
this first pset is 5 problems long. seems pretty simple, maybe would only take about 2.5 hours to complete at first glance.
oh, how i was so wrong.
i worked with my friend aiden [insert pic of aiden] who is also in 8.01! and boy, did we mcHeckin SUFFER. we spent t h r e e hours on two problems. it took us 5 hours to complete three. as i type this up, i’m watching aiden and raymond try and solve our fifth and final problem but i honestly have given up hope.
i have never felt so defeated in my life and i think that’s something that really says a lot about me. i’ve questioned a lot of the time my purpose in being at such a highly regarded institution. the university that is on the lips and minds of so many people, such an acclaimed, respected, and desired place. so how the f*ck did i end up here?
if you take a look at my track record, it’s somewhat impressive. academics wise i graduated 3rd in my class and i’ve got an assortment of extracurriculars and interests under my belt, but i think the way i’ve been learning was what would eventually lead me to my downfall. i would listen, but not truly learn.
i heard, and i remembered, but then i would forget.
i learned not out of curiosity and love for what i was doing, but for a letter on paper that i believed would determine everything i was and everything i would be.
and for that, i am forever full of regret.
i’ve been trying to tackle my classes with a new perspective: learn for love of knowledge. and it’s been working. i’ve come to terms with the fact that i need to build new foundations. i’m currently taking 8.01 = Physics 1<br /> 18.01A = Calculus 1<br /> 3.091 = Intro to Solid State Chemistry<br /> 21M.011 = Intro to Western Music and i love what i’m learning.
but i think i fall back to my old ways when it comes to psets. i look at the problems and i see streaks on a screen. i am shaky hands, teary eyes, tense shoulders. i am labored breathing, ringing ears, anxious taps of the toe on the ground.
i am terrified.
as i’ve been psetting with aiden, i realize that i don’t quite catch on to material as fast as everyone else. the way that my colleagues write down equations on the whiteboard with such ease, explaining fast and quick solutions and variables like bullets from a gun. and i can’t help but feel impaled by every word, both from the pain of processing but also the pain of inadequacy.
i am inadequate.
even now, i’m looking at the whiteboard, where in the corner it facetiously reads “Aiden and Cami suck at 8.01” as a way to offset the tension i feel when doing this homework. it’s something strange to come to terms with, how this class singlehandedly has knocked down everything i am and everything i know. i am trying to approach learning with positivity but i can’t help but feel lost.
i am behind.
18.01A seems to mimic these feelings, but not quite so drastically. i love my lectures. i love my professor. his handwriting is neat, his explanations are concise and easily understood. i am learning calculus the way i’ve wanted to learn calculus. and though i struggle with the psets, the gratifying feeling when i hit submit and see the green checkmark appear is a feeling like no other. i am learning to love math, appreciating the thoughts and perspectives its given to me.
i am learning.
3.091 is familiar and comfortable. i took chemistry for three years in high school — honors chem, ap chem, and organic chem. and i had an incredible chemistry teacher, dr. varnold, who not only was my teacher, but one of my greatest mentors, friends, and even parental figures i’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing. he taught me how to love chemistry, and now i look at my 3.091 problems and experiments with excitement.
i am comfortable.
21M.011 is my treat to myself. i’ve loved music for as long as i can remember, yet i never really had time for it in high school, until i decided to love myself a little bit more and allow myself to take choir in my senior year of high school. i played piano and guitar on and off throughout my entire school career. and it’s taken me 17 years of my life to finally admit to myself that i want to pursue a music minor in college and this is my chance to explore music in a tangible academic setting.
i am happy.
and all these classes come together to make my first semester experience. mit is a challenge unlike any i’ve faced before. i recently asked myself why mit students put themselves under so much stress and challenge. a degree? job security? name? but no, no i don’t think we’re here for that. the thing that has been holding me down amongst this chaos, that stops me from shutting my laptop and throwing it out the window, that stops me from transferring and just giving up and going home, is companionship.
mit challenges us to show that some things simply cannot be done on your own. office hours, pset parties, even just a simple yell into mit confessions for help with an 8.01 pset: it is collaboration. and so no matter the amount of hours i spend on this one pset, no matter how long i stare at that screen at the empty textbox, no matter how long i write and erase and write and erase, it is all worth it because of these people i’ve met and the experiences they’ve given me.
and now i take a breath and look around me, as we crowd into this kitchen in loop, with meme music blasting from the speakers, surrounded by friends and fried rice and laughter and joy. it is comfort. it is companionship. it is a safety net that protects me from all the stresses of this tiny bubble. and in this madness and chaos, i know one thing:
i am home.
to my friends:
you’ve made this all worth it. thank you for the late night walks to random, the impromptu cooking sessions, the friendly bullying and teasing, the “dance your feelings out” parties at 2am, the stress baking sessions, and everything else that comes with our weird wacky friend group.
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