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MIT blogger Sabrina M. '21

My Blogger App, five years later by Sabrina M. '21

i've finally dyed my hair blue

As you’ve probably already read in Chris’ post, the blogger application is now live and ready for all your submissions. At some point in the past, all of the bloggers you see here on this site have applied using the same (or relatively similar) application, save for those Real Real Adults01 i like to think of myself as a Real Adult who work for the Admissions Office.

I applied around this time in 2015, the summer before my freshman year. The questions don’t vary much from year to year, though the format has changed slightly since my day. Two computers and five years later, I’ve lost the writing I had submitted then, though with Chris’ help (and presumably organized computer folders) I managed to get my hands on it once again. And, because my favorite thing to do on here is reminisce, I thought it’d be nice to share snippets from what I had written and photos I submitted, both so you can get a sense of what you can write about or submit,02 read: literally anything and to reflect on the things that mattered to me then, and how that’s changed (or how it hasn’t) throughout the years.

Where are you from?

They say that there is no place like home, but I see my home everywhere I go. I grew up in and just outside the bustling city of New York, and I carry that feeling of home with me wherever I may travel. It has nothing to do with geography. In such a large city, I had always been surrounded by so many different kinds of people with differing mindsets and ideas. Seeing such a large variety of cultures and people has taught me that nothing is impossible. From Latino CEOs to transgender artists: New York has it all. Living alongside this for most of my life has made me realize that nothing is unusual either.

There is not much to say here that isn’t already written. Although I don’t currently consider New York to be my home, I do still see it as the place of my hometown, of my roots. Of course, all the places I’ve lived since have shaped me immensely as well, but I can always trace back the feelings of comfort and belonging to New York.

What happened Tuesday?

Having days off feels a lot better before the day actually arrives. Once you are in a cycle of constant activity, like a job, anything else feels off. Now of course, work is exhausting. We all need days off, but there’s something about them that feels so tiring. I had grown so accustomed to waking up to the blaring sounds of my musical alarm starting off my day. Instead, my day started with the sound of my old air conditioner shifting out of its Power Saver mode and the vibration of my phone, notifying me of emails I’d trash anyway. That day, I woke up three hours later than usual, and still felt more tired than ever. As I blinked crusted eyes open, I knew; Tuesday was gonna be a long day.

That summer, I worked at my local pool as a cashier, often standing for hours in the sun handing out parking slips or life vests, or taking cash from people who wanted to get in. It was retail at its finest without actually being retail (we didn’t sell anything except entrance to a marvelously shitty pool), and I did get my fair share of yelling and condescension from angry and entitled customers.

four polaroid photos, one of me at my graduating party, another of my coworkers at the pool, another of me making s'mores, the last one of me at NYC Pride

titled: polaroids – some pictures of memorable events, either dated on bottom or “cleverly” captioned

We were all required to work on all Saturdays and Sundays, because it was a pool, it was exceptionally hot out all the time, and most people still had jobs or responsibilities to attend to during the week. Fridays were also a bit busier than other days, so most people worked then, too. A consequence of this was our seemingly random days off, which could be any combination of two days Monday through Thursday, handed to us three weeks in advance without much of our say on the matter. I spent a lot of Tuesdays that summer relaxing, or trying to unwind, only to do nothing much at all. I felt at once an extreme boredom and an extreme lack of motivation to do anything

Eventually, I walked around and opened the fridge at least twenty times to make sure nothing had transcended space and magically appeared. I looked through my camera viewfinder, debating if the view would develop well on Polaroid film or if it was worth the money. I looked at the discarded concert tickets I had yet to add to my collage, mentally positioned them, and went back to my couch. It was a constant, vicious cycle of almost-doing and not-doing that ended back on square one.

This summer, I am attempting to work for my UROP full-time, which I may write about in the near future. Though I’ve set my schedule so that I’m working03 in theory from 9 AM to 5 PM Monday through Friday, being back in my parent’s home and staying inside literally all day except for daily runs/walks gives me flashbacks to that that summer I wrote about. I’m interested in what I’m researching, I am, but the combination of being back in New York and it being unsuitable for home work,04 there is no desk anywhere in the house. my sister and i work together on our dining room table on most days. she takes a lot of calls as part of her job, three large windows let in sunlight and it’s unbearably hot, and since it’s a dining room, the chairs are not meant to be sat in for longer than two hours staring at my screen all day long, and the global situation have exhausted me to my core. I am constantly looking for things to do, micro-distractions to keep me from thinking about my buggy script. Sometimes that’s getting up and refilling my water even though my cup is half full, other times it’s getting up to sit on the couch for a few minutes because my back hurts, and other times it’s picking out just the cashews and almonds from a large container of mixed nuts, so that I can then eat said nuts. I contemplate doing other things if I really need a break—I contemplate writing, or watching something, or even drawing. Mostly, I do none of these things, and I stay in the cycle of almost-doing and not-doing, stuck in limbo.

I spend the weekdays telling myself that I’ll do everything I’ve been missing when the weekend rolls around. I’ll watch those shows I need to catch up, I’ll finally beat that video game, I’ll write, god I’ll write so much I won’t even know what to do with myself. There’s not even anything else to do, what with most entertainment and businesses still being closed due to the pandemic. Surprise surprise, even though the situation has largely changed, it turns out not much else has since 2015.

I loved every second of it, and hated myself even more for it. How could I ever be happy with myself knowing I wasted my free days doing absolutely nothing? Even if I wanted to do something, my legs wouldn’t move. The suede couches had trapped me in their cozy confines.

One fish, two fish; red fish, blue fish; what do, you wish?

Round fish, square fish, I wish to dye my hair blue (ish). Or, in way less specific terms, I wish I could do what makes me happy (for example, dyeing my hair outrageous colors) without having to hassle my parents to ask for permission. Or, in even less specific terms, just to be able to do whatever, whenever. To be free, in essence.

The first time I wanted to dye my hair was when I was around 7, and living in the Dominican Republic. I’d gotten into the habit of watching Digimon and Teen Titans before bed, sometimes shirking my scheduled bedtime to continue on through the night. I remember wanting silver highlights, not because any of the characters in either show did, but because I thought it could make me feel a part of their world anyway. I wanted to feel cool, to feel like a protagonist undertaking a story that was bigger than me and the world I knew. I asked my parents to let me do it, which was met with a quick no. I don’t know what I had expected at 7, when it’s not like I was ever offered a choice on what to do with my hair anyway. I gave it up, and let my dreams of hair dye fade away.

The first time I wanted to dye my hair blue was as a junior in high school. After months of seeing and reblogging GIF sets on Tumblr, I finally found a place to watch Blue is the Warmest Color online with subtitles. I remember staying up late, past when my parents had gone to bed, watching the three hour beast of a movie on our family computer, enveloped in the darkness of my room and hoping they wouldn’t try to come in. It wasn’t that I’d never seen gay women in media before,05 i spent an embarrassing amount of time watching pretty bad canadian television when lesbian characters were introduced but as a teenager still in the closet, I hungrily consumed all the content that became available, looking for connection I felt I couldn’t have yet. I scoured the depths of Netflix and Tumblr recommendations so that I could feel like I was living their lives, and as tragic as they often were, much of it still felt like a fantasy.a GIF from Blue is the Warmest Color, showing a blue haired girl kiss her girlfriend on the cheek

In hindsight, Blue is the Warmest Color isn’t a particularly good movie, nor is it great representation, especially compared to what is available now.06 the handmaiden, carol, and portrait of a lady on fire are three of my favorites But, the idea of blue hair felt like something cool and unique, and was only affirmed by other media I’d consumed later down the road.

From my senior year in high school to my freshman year at MIT, I played through all of Life is Strange as it was released; a narrative adventure game loosely about time travel and more tightly about the emotional conflicts between and within its cast of characters. In it, you play as a girl in her senior year who discovers she can rewind time and reunites with her childhood best friend, who you can develop a romance with and happens to sport blue hair.07 noticing a trend here?

Even though both these characters are deeply hurt by their respective stories—Lea Seydoux’s blue haired character for whom the movie is named after is cheated on, and Chloe from Life is Strange spends most of the game dying brutal deaths (granted, she’s revived every time)—I fixated on them. I was consumed with the feeling that I find unique to the queer experience: simultaneously wanting to be a person and wanting them to come into your life and sweep you off your feet. The blue hair was just a common thread; it was as much about the hair as it was about letting go and not caring about what people might think of me, of all the parts of me.

a drawing of a girl with blue hair

titled: skechy [sic] – done with crayola

MIT felt like the gateway to the part of myself I was too afraid to suddenly become. I couldn’t just change, not instantly, not when everyone around me had already known me and expected the same from me, and not when I was still technically under someone else’s roof. During my CPW, I watched people dye their hair on a whim, without fear in the East Campus courtyards. I largely spent my time on West Campus, dead set that I was going to live there anyway. I ended up ranking Senior Haus as my top choice for housing despite only visiting once on an impromptu tour, because it both frightened me and excited me. The person I was, the person I would continue to be if I never challenged myself, was uncomfortable, but I saw the person I wanted to be thriving there.

I remember being seventeen, coming home and confidently announcing I was getting a nose piercing.Not in my house; you’ll never get a job with that.

Though I didn’t get around to dyeing my hair that first year, I did eventually pierce my nose. I also cut my hair shorter than it ever had been that IAP, feeling a mixture of nervousness and relief that I could still get closer to looking like what I wanted to look like. I can’t count how many times I’d stepped out of the shower in my parent’s house, hair coated in shampoo suds and swirled up so it all laid on top of my head, trying to imagine what I’d look like with hair short enough that it didn’t tickle my ears or make hats hard to wear. Or, borrowing my sister’s clip on nose rings just to see what I’d look like. It was just a small step, but it was something.

Well, now I’ve done it, almost seven years after the fact. It helps that I had bleached my hair almost white back in January with a friend, though most of it has grown out by now due to some untimely quarantine shut downs. So now, most of my hair is an incredibly vibrant shade of blue, natural brown filling in the gaps where I’ve since cut the blonde. 

In the future, I envision myself with electrifying blue curls, tattoos on my wrists, and a fashion sense that says “I’m trying too hard to be alternative”. And, even if I look back at old college photos and laugh out of shame, at least I know I got to feel free, even just for that moment.

To be honest, I think I had grown out of the stage of wanting to have blue hair a while ago. Of course, it’s still been in the back of my mind, always wondering what it’d look like without actually wondering when I’d do it. And frankly, I had grown to really enjoy the blonde, more so than I expected. But, I felt a sense of obligation to both my former and future selves to close the mystery and just do it. And, I’m happy with that choice (even if I probably won’t be redoing it any time soon). The choice was all that mattered to me anyway.

Well, there you have it, an insider look at my application. Like I said before, it’s changed a bit since then, but really, the fact remains that you can write about anything. If you can tie in your favorite video game, or a recipe you made, or a book, or clipping your toenails into a prompt about your hometown, and if it’s close to your heart and authentic to you, do it! Even if you don’t end up blogging, you’ll have the writing to look back on and get wistful about years down the line.

I think I find it a little too easy to reflect these days, but I’m immensely grateful for the blogs, which constantly give me that opportunity. And just maybe, this could be you, too, and you’ll be posting in four years about how you never lived up to the things you said you’d do on your application. I think my past self is still happy with how I’ve turned out, even if I’ve taken a longer route. Just saying, it’s never too late!

Good luck with applying!

  1. i like to think of myself as a Real Adult back to text
  2. read: literally anything back to text
  3. in theory back to text
  4. there is no desk anywhere in the house. my sister and i work together on our dining room table on most days. she takes a lot of calls as part of her job, three large windows let in sunlight and it’s unbearably hot, and since it’s a dining room, the chairs are not meant to be sat in for longer than two hours back to text
  5. i spent an embarrassing amount of time watching pretty bad canadian television when lesbian characters were introduced back to text
  6. the handmaiden, carol, and portrait of a lady on fire are three of my favorites back to text
  7. noticing a trend here? back to text