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MIT student blogger Kirsten L. '15

Mistakes by Kirsten L. '15

& the inspiration we need to move on

My lack of blogging this semester is largely a reflection of how this semester has been going.
It’s been incredibly busy, almost to the point to which I’ve just forgotten what’s important to me.
This blog is about the mistakes I made this semester, largely losing sight about what I actually wanted for myself.

I think one thing that gets underestimated here is the pressures that we put on ourselves. Each of us here has high expectations for ourselves. We don’t look at each other competitively- I’ve honestly never felt the need to “out do” anyone here- but rather we fall into the temptation of evaluating ourselves based on what others are doing. I’ve never felt this more than I did this semester.

Over the summer, I contemplated a lot of things about where I wanted to be. I knew I wanted to go into Mechanical Engineering. But I didn’t know if I wanted to do more than that. Many of my friends were considering minoring, or even double majoring, and I figured I might as well try too.
Since I knew I’d love to work in the biomedical field at some point (yay biomedical robots), I decided that I wanted to try and do a minor in course 20. I figured I’d start that by taking 5.12 (Organic Chemistry) this semester.

Taking organic chemistry was honestly one of the worst decisions I’ve made since I’ve been here. The professor was great, but I honestly hated the class. The material was as unappetizing to me as chopped liver. I didn’t like learning the material, and I couldn’t see myself ever using it again. It was a very slippery slope to go down. Every week, I’d spend 5 hours in lecture/recitation and at least another 8 doing all the readings, notes, and the psets. I quickly became really unhappy with the work, but figured I’d at least try and stick it out. I just wouldn’t let myself drop it. I rationalized it by making myself feel bad about taking the wrong class (I figured I wasted the class “slot” this semester) and saying that I’d already put so much time and effort into it that it wasn’t worth dropping the class, especially since I was actually doing decently well in the class.

But studying for the tests was honestly the worst experience for me. I stressed so much about remembering all the material, that I just couldn’t focus. I broke down a couple times and ended up talking with my parents on the phone for half hours at a time, explaining how I just felt incompetent and inadequate. Then I’d take the test, do okay, and then the cycle would start again. The week before the last test, I realized I hadn’t eaten in the dining hall for a couple days becasue I kept taking food out since I was “too busy” to spend time in the dining hall. I made the mistake of neglecting to take care of myself by taking time for myself, and ignored the warning signs that something wasn’t right in my life.

But the impending drop date forced me to really reflect on my life.
Today, I finally made the right decision and decided to drop my organic chemistry class. The stress and energy that the class was causing me was too much to handle. I was forcing myself to do something that I didn’t love and that I really didn’t need to take. (I know there will be classes that I won’t love in the future in my major. But at least I would know that there was some point to taking them in the larger picture.)

I think my last mistake was letting myself be influenced too much by what other friends were doing. I felt pressured to try and minor in something, when I really didn’t need to. I’m glad that I took the opportunity this semester to try something new, but I just don’t think it was the right thing for me to do in the end. I forgot what I was really interested in, which is honestly just building cool things and having a lot of fun doing it.

One of my close high school friends ended his graduation speech by reminding us to “just do you.”
I need to remember to be me more often.
I need to do what I love.
Spend time with friends. Call back home more often. Paint. Sketch. Tinker. Take photographs. Bake. Blog.
I need to commit my energy to the things that matter to me.
I need to prioritize my happiness. (It’s really the only way to make it here.)

Nothing speaks better to the Holstee Manifesto

“Life is short. Live your dream, and share your passion.”