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MIT blogger Ankita D. '23

on regression by Ankita D. '23

the to your shitty high school self, and not linear, kind

i’m currently in the midst of my second week of online school. things have been going pretty well—my first week flew by since i had frontloaded all my work to prepare for my boyfriend staying over, but now that he’s gone, time has slowed to a crawl. my area issued a shelter-in-place until May 4th, which means that i won’t see him or any of my friends for a while. i’m kind of emo about it, but have decided to take advantage of this time spent living at home to do the things i don’t have the time to do while on campus.

this entails rediscovering my high school hobbies01 everything except writing Haikyuu! fanfiction, that is to spend time. i once again need multiple creative outlets to feel fulfilled—at MIT, i only needed dance, but now just that isn’t enough. i need to read, draw, write, cook/bake, listen to new music, and journal to be satisfied; only when i dedicate myself to this host of creative channels do i feel occupied enough to avoid the quarantine tedium.

and it feels very high-school-esque. in my junior and senior years, i took only a few classes at my high school and the rest at a college, so i spent a maximum of three hours at school on most days. the rest of my time was spent doing homework and then cycling through the activities i mentioned earlier.

i also spend a lot of my day living in my own head, which is another high school tendency. when i’m with others, i try to exist in the moment, but when it’s just me, i start curating mental lists and obsessively re-organizing my extensive compilation of tasks to feel like i’m giving myself direction; i narrate my thoughts as if i’m creating diary entries or writing blog posts that never leave my head. and i’m always, always striving to feel productive. nearly everything i do is intentional—when i read or dance or draw, i’m satisfied since i’m doing something purposeful that has a tangible reward or outcome; when i watch TV shows, it’s either as i’m doing chores or with other people to “maximize productivity.” i feel a compulsive need to gain control of every aspect of my life so i can be fulfilled.

in a similar vein, i started bullet journaling again. i still use Google Calendar to manage all my academics and events, but i put my lists of long-term (read: quarantine) goals/habit trackers in an old journal that i last used in junior year. it’s very satisfying but also reminiscent of the time in high school where i would overcommit myself in my journals and inevitably stop using them because my lack of achievement was too difficult to confront.

should i be concerned that i need the rush of dopamine obtained from shading in an infinitesimal square to floss or exercise or not eat sugar? i really don’t know…

 

224 steps in a day oops

yikes. YIKES.

 

when i do things, the intrinsic motivators are often really stupid and trivial. for example, when i draw, i’m spurred by the prospect of expanding my collection of art,02 i'm on a quest to plaster every inch of the walls of my bedroom with art. i'm getting there... which comes in the form of taping it to the walls of my bedroom. the idea of getting better at art, or feeling immersed in how enjoyable it is, is always a secondary instigator, which feels kind of unhealthy. i had a brief respite from this while participating in the MIT dance community’s daily art prompt challenge, though. the first day’s was “gooey,” and this is what i came up with:

gooey drawing

i really like drawing eyes owo

but, again, i needed to take part in a challenge to motivate myself to explore new creative concepts. how do i rediscover my relationship with art—one in which i indulge in it to grow as an artist, not to attain some arbitrarily tangible outcome like expanding the art display above my desk? can i chill out and do things with pure intentions for once???

being fixated on ‘getting things done to this extent takes a great deal of complacency. half-assing everything in the name of being productive is so meaningless…so i want to use this quarantine to cultivate healthier mindsets, to learn to give 100% to everything i do, and to gain as much as possible from it.

i think i’m on the way to doing this! i’m reading Americanah with the goal of fully absorbing it rather than just adding it to my Goodreads collection. highschool!me, on the other hand, would race through book after book just to meet my reading challenge target; yes, i enjoyed everything i read, but i can hardly remember the contents of most of what i consumed. this isn’t surprising at all, really. i would fill the empty seconds in my day with audiobooks and devour novels back-to-back, each time undermining my ability to reflect on what i had last read. now that i’ve experienced what it’s like to not have time to read at all, i know how inane it is to pursue the gratification of diving through books rather than learning from them. so…here we are!

another thing i’ve been doing is Dungeons and Dragons. one of my close friends was really into this, but i never had much interest in it as a high schooler since it seemed to lack tangible benefits. now, though, i’ve decided to get my head out of my ass and give it a chance, and i’m loving it. each session is 3-4 hours, which seems like a lot, but the roleplaying is so immersive that it goes by really quickly. my character is a rogue half-elf with a penchant for theft and a reward on her head :) i like that i can play DnD without the lurking thought that i’m wasting 3+ hours of time on nothing, which is what my high school self certainly would have experienced.

i think what i’m most proud of is how i’m pushing myself out of my comfort zone by taking the various dance classes that my favorite choreographers are offering in quarantine. i don’t enjoy classes since i like learning slowly and at my own pace, but taking them is helping me grow as a dancer, which i’m grateful for. i’ve resolved to take at least three classes a week so i can stay consistent!

i hope that i can use quarantine as a chance to master new skills and completely delve into my passions instead of spreading myself too thin and inevitably gaining nothing at all. and i’m so grateful that i’m safe and have the ability to explore new things during this period of time.

we gon’ achieve some great things this quarantine, folks. we got this! :)

  1. everything except writing Haikyuu! fanfiction, that is back to text
  2. i'm on a quest to plaster every inch of the walls of my bedroom with art. i'm getting there... back to text