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A head-and-shoulders illustrated portrait of Ceri Riley. She is smiling with her mouth closed, has light skin, and long light pink hair.

On Moving by Ceri Riley '16

A goodbye that took me a semester, and some distance, to write.

Hey, blogs. How ya doing?

Long time no see…

Or, I guess, write.

All last semester I was thinking of the right way to say goodbye to this corner of the Internet, to sum up all my feelings from the past four years into a couple paragraphs and punchy phrases. This fictional super-eloquent me would end with the blog version of a mic drop, and then peace out from MIT and the East Coast to start a new chapter.

Well, it’s July now. I graduated more than a month ago with the double major in CMS & 7A. I’m a driver’s license away from being an official Montana resident. I’m a full-time employee writing and editing scripts for the YouTube channel SciShow. I’m car owner, or at least a car loan payer. And – dare I say it – I think I’m a Real Adult™ now.

But I’m still kind of tethered to MIT. Not in a trapped way. I just thought I’d want to get as far away as fast as possible, to start fresh, to not think about the stresses of school for a loooong time. And I do, and I did, and I took a break. But I also don’t mind the idea of going back to visit. I might even be back next February.

More on all that later, though. Because in the past couple months, I’ve said a lot of hopefully-temporary goodbyes to a lot of important people, and that’s what I want to write about first. It’s gonna be super autobiographical, and maybe not so coherent.

Here’s the thing, I’ve had a lot of feels recently.

A lot of these feels are about the world, and the heaviness of what’s been going on in it. Feelings of scrambling, and searching for ways to help, and not adding to the media spectacle that rips stories away from bodies and gradually desensitizes us to injustice and tragedy and violence.

A lot of these feels are personal, about who I am, and what I want to do now. I’m pretty sure everyone has these feelings before/throughout/after college and always, so they’re kind of universally intimidating questions that you don’t really need to know the answers to yet/ever/???. I’ve been puzzling out answers for the past 4+ years and I still don’t know how much I’ve figured out. I don’t really have a concrete goal for the future, or a plan, or a strong desire for a family, or a dream place to settle down. Maybe more financial stability? For now, I’m kind of just taking it one day or week or month at a time. Someday I’ll figure out what it’s like to lay down roots.

A lot of these feels are about relationships, and how they’ve grown and changed and ended and begun. Y’know, all those cliche dichotomies that those quote magnets like to use. I don’t have very many close friends, but I surrounded myself with the strongest support system I could ever imagine in order to survive college. It was harder than I expected to rip myself away from that network, and I’m grateful how some of us are still connected through emails and postcards and everything in between.

And a lot of these feels are about places. About MIT and my complicated relationship with it. I don’t think I’m going to miss the atmosphere of MIT; I haven’t so far and can’t see myself ever becoming nostalgic for the echoey hallways or looming buildings, even with the wealth of Pokéstops they apparently hold. Maybe a class or two, definitely a professor/advisor/lecturer/boss or eight. But it has taught me what I’m willing to do to fight for happiness, and make a home in a place where, at one point, I didn’t think I fit.

I’ve used the blogs as a platform to talk about my weird, mixed feelings about this school before. And even as a recent alumna, they’re kind of a vague collection of wonderful, hilarious, meaningful moments – like pinpricks of light in 4 years of swirling grey fog. Most of my memory is kind of dull, and I can’t quite figure out whether it’s a me thing or a brain thing.

I guess I thought graduating from MIT would feel more… final. I spent so much of these last two years focusing on jobs, and people, and making things, that I was already pulling myself out of the student lifestyle. So making it through graduation was a relief, but it was just one final step out of a world I was already leaving.

I’m frustrated by how MIT the institution made me feel about myself, about my abilities, about my choice of major, about what a healthy lifestyle is. But I know I wouldn’t have followed this strange, choose-your-own adventure path and met these really significant people had I not come here. So the hardest question you can ask me is, “Would you do it over again?” because I can’t not say yes. For me, the opportunities that were tangentially related to the school were the most valuable things to come out of it. The advanced, under-enrolled, supportive writing and CMS classes were my safe haven, and taught me so much about myself and the world.

If you know me on or offline, you probably know that I do video stuff. If this is the first blog post you’ve read from me, I can’t believe you’ve made it through this rambling mess thus far.

Also, hey. I do video stuff. Sometimes comics, too.

And, in these past two years, I’ve probably spent as much or more time working on media stuff than in classes. So even though I wasn’t writing words for the blogs these past few months, I was writing a lot. Maybe more than ever before. Because my Real Adult™ job(s) involve writing words! For educational online video (and the behind-the-scenes of comics)! And working with other cool SciShow people (and one of my most inspiring mentors/friends on her comic Monstress)! Using skills from both my Media Studies and Biology degrees!!!


(the real MVP of overlapping interests/fandoms/etc. is this person who reads the blogs and noticed this video back in April)



I’m in an okay place, now. On a small black futon that’s a little too short for me – my feet stick off the end – and that 50-year-me with back problems will regret sleeping on for weeks. In a nearly-empty red-walled room with two windows, where most of my important possessions fit on a small bookshelf, and a pile of flattened cardboard is stacked against the wall to recycle. In the town of Missoula, Montana which has sidewalks on both sides of the streets, beautiful plants everywhere you look, and a Taco Time (my personal favorite fast-food Mexican restaurant chain) but no 7-Eleven.

Sometimes, like in any sort of unhealthy relationship, you need to distance yourself for a while to gain perspective. And now I’m far enough from MIT to understand how its pressures affected me, the ways it forced me to grow up, and how to pick a healthier path in the future – rather than just blaming the school for the emptiness I felt a lot of the time, which is what I did when I was most bitter. I have so much work to do, to recalibrate and figure out a new normal. But I think I have the time and space and support to do that.

Now, I just hope some of these blogs help other people choose their own adventure, and know that it’s okay to take unconventional paths through a place like an imposing Institute of Technology. Whether they’re humanities-and-arts-laden paths, or not-academics-focused paths, or something completely different. Or even that it’s okay to take unconventional paths in Adult Life, because the career fair/counselors didn’t help me, and none of the most stable job options really seemed all that interesting.

I’ve always made other people a priority over myself, and now I’m finally trying to find balance. So, goodbyes are sad, but the important people stick around. And feelings can be overwhelming, but I’m glad I have them sometimes instead of nothingness.

I’ll still lurk and read the blogs, because they were an important part of my life here. But I don’t think I have anything else to say here after this goodbye (besides the folder of half-finished posts and vlog ideas that I never actually completed, but such is life). Soon, new freshmen will share their MIT perspectives, and that’s way more important than a crufty voice half-reminiscing, half-complaining on a little soapbox.

I’m going to be at San Diego Comic Con, and I was at VidCon. I’m going to be in Montana, and Washington, and maybe Massachusetts for a visit that coincides with NerdCon: Nerdfighteria. I’m definitely going to be online always, posting snippets of life or dank memes, just not… here. But I’m easy to find.

And you’ll be where you are – at MIT, applying to MIT, completely unrelated to MIT, stumbling upon this blog 5 years in the future when we’re all doing who-knows-what. I hope you figure things out, and go on many adventures in the meantime, with lots of compassion and a sharp mind and a warm heart. That’s what I’m trying to do, at least.

You’re gonna be great.