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MIT blogger CJ Q. '23

ignorance by CJ Q. '23

is a virtue

i set up alarms too early than too late. an alarm that’s too early, you can hit snooze on. you can keep hitting snooze until you need to wake up. the analogy is that when there’s something i’m alarmed about, when i’m on edge and i’m worrying and things are on my mind, i can keep hitting ignore and ignore and ignore until i actually need to deal with it.

similarly, looking at my grades is a choice i can make. i don’t have to look at my grades when they get released. when gradescope or canvas tells me that so-and-so thing is graded, i can ignore it. and that ignorance is freeing, especially when i can just do things without worrying about grades too much.

or, when a deadline for a decision is coming, i don’t have to make it yet. i can ignore the deadline and process my feelings in the backburner until i have to actually have to make the decision, waiting for more information to come, and trusting that my gut can process it in the background.

or, when the news breaks and i am not in the right state of mind, i don’t have to listen to it. i can postpone the reports and the doomscrolling until i can listen to it. in practice, no news is urgent enough that i have to listen to it as soon as possible.

after all, ignorance is how i learned to overcome my anxiety. the answer i discovered was neither fight nor flight but freeze. because on the good days, the meds work. the meds work, the weather’s good, and my executive control is sharp enough to ignore things:

  • i ignore the things i can’t change anymore, like grades,
  • i ignore the things i’m waiting for more info about, like decisions i need to make,
  • and i ignore the things i don’t need to worry about just yet, like news.

so to the applicants who are waiting for decision day, here is my deep, profound advice. please consider:

  • ignoring things you can’t change anymore, like decisions,
  • ignoring things you’re waiting for more info about, like decisions,
  • and ignoring things you don’t need to worry about just yet, like decisions.

summoning the executive control required to ignore something is hard. i know i find it hard. so i took some steps to make it easier to ignore decisions, while i was waiting for them:

  • i muted keywords like “mit” or “decisions” from my twitter feed.
  • i muted all the college-related group chats i was in.
  • i unsubscribed to subreddits like /r/applyingtocollege.
  • i avoided conversations about colleges and decisions; when one came up, i would try to steer the topic or excuse myself.
  • i removed the admissions blog from my rss feed, so i didn’t get emails about new blog posts. (don’t worry, we’ll be here when you get back.)
  • i had a list of distractions on hand, so i can do something else whenever i worried about decisions.

i’m not expecting everyone to find this post helpful. ignorance might be a good coping strategy for you, and it might not. i do want to say that, if it helps you, you needn’t be ashamed of it. please take the time you need to take care of yourself, in whatever way works for you. good luck!