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MIT student blogger Afeefah K. '21

8,726,400 SOS: It’s Coming Home (by it, I mean me) by Afeefah K. '21

guest post by Rukia. H '21

*written by Rukia H. ’21 as a part of the 8,726,400 Seconds of Summer guest post series*


If we were to use the World Cup as an analogy for my life right now, I just lost a group stage match, but I still managed to progress beyond the group stage and into the knockout round.

Background (why the World Cup):

I have been obsessed with the World Cup for the past month, which is strange considering none of the teams I support qualified for it (the US and the Dutch). But anyone who knows me well enough knows that if you sit me in front of a TV and give me a game to watch, I’ll end up passionately supporting someone within ten minutes.

I get heavily invested during soccer matches; it’s a fact. I can barely stay still in my seat as I urge players to run faster, jump higher, and save the impossible. I give them nicknames and scream loudly at the television screen as if they can hear me. I yell when they fail to do the incredible (ironic considering my athletic ability is that of a peanut). And I cry with them when it’s over.

Observations (of the World Cup):

One of the best parts for me when it comes to watching a game is listening to the pundits comment on the players and the game because you can learn a lot in the process (side note: this one time, I thought one of the Belgium players was so slow and a terrible player overall, but the commentators then were like “look at that amazing play by *player x*” and I was like rip, so much for my soccer knowledge)

One comment I’ve been hearing a lot about is how players grow into the World Cup and what they mean by that is that as teams progress, they start playing better. They may be a bit shaky at first (this applies to all players, no matter how great you are!) but then you learn as you go and become better. A great example of this would be France. I remember waking up at 3 AM to watch them churn out an unconvincing win in the group stage and how disappointing it was to see that, but now look at them! They’re world champions and rightfully so! They regrouped and managed to defeat impressive teams from the difficult end of the bracket to reach the final and then won it all.

Evidence (from real life):

Early on, during second semester, I booked my plane ticket home. Being from California, I didn’t get many chances to go back home and see my family during the year; in fact, I only went home once and that was during winter break. So I booked the ticket and that was the end of it.

Or at least it would have been, had I been at any other school. As spring semester began to dwindle down, everyone seemed to have summer plans like exciting internships, going abroad, or new/continuing UROPs. I was starting to feel the pressure as the inevitable question arose repeatedly about my own plans for the summer. And so I frantically applied to anything within fifty miles of my house… and got rejected from all of them.

When I got on that plane, I’ll admit it sucked. I felt like I was falling behind again, producing some lackluster performance that was definitely not worth an admittance to MIT. Because clearly someone who goes to MIT would get the internship (Elle Woods: like it’s hard?) and excel and change the world all in three months. Because that’s what they do. Because that’s what I want them to do.

But I’m home and after a month and a half, I know it will be fine. The first few days were tough because I missed the fast-paced MIT lifestyle. I spent those days agonizing over the fact that I had nothing to do and how it was such a waste of time. Now one day seems to blend into the next and it doesn’t worry me anymore. I like waking up late and staying up, doing whatever I want everyday. I like having this relaxed, lazy, maybe even boring summer because in the back of my mind, it’s feeding my ambition to do more. Doing nothing makes it painfully obvious what exactly you want to do and I know precisely what I want to do for this upcoming year and the summer following it. So maybe on paper, this summer was a bust for me, but in the long run, I think it will be a major stepping stone to something incredible.


Group Stages (Results)

  • Surviving freshman year at MIT = +3
  • Going home = +3
  • Getting rejected by internships/not really having summer plans = +0

Notes: I still made it through despite not getting the result I wanted!
Knockout Rounds (TBD)

  • Sophomore Year
  • Junior Year
  • Senior Year

Notes: I still have all these matches to play! Using what I know now, I can make the appropriate changes to produce the results I want. I’m definitely still growing as a MIT student and that’s okay! And who knows, maybe with time, I’ll be up on that podium, drenched in rain, but holding the greatest prize of them all.¹
Also, what’s pretty cool about life is that unlike the World Cup, you can’t really get knocked out. You may not always get what you want at a certain time, but you always get the chance to try again and bring the trophy (aka your happiness) home :)

¹ diploma? pirate’s license? the key to the city? the world may never know