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Reference Frames by Emad T. '14

Vision - of the present and for the future - is powerful

Even in classical mechanics, physics tells us about relativity, where things as seemingly objective as motion or time are influenced by how one observes one’s surroundings. Even if you’re circling the globe in a plane 20,000 feet in the air, you feel deceptively little motion; you’d only know it by looking out the window.

As long as you’re sitting, you’re stationary with respect to the plane. But it goes without saying that, relative to some fixed point on Earth, you’re all moving – and fast.

It’s all about the frame of reference that you use. When studying relative motion, you learn that any reference frame, with the right calculations and considerations, can get you the right answer. However, some definitely help more than others. If your work is getting frustrating, sometimes all you have to do is shift your point of view, and things will feel much better – even easier – than before.

With that in mind, I invite you to investigate where your frame of reference lies. No, put away the calculators and stop drawing free body diagrams; this is an exercise in introspection. No matter whether you were accepted, wait-listed, not admitted, or even if you’ve yet to apply, this will help you out.

Go back in time to your earliest memory. Set a reference frame there for now. What do you see? In one of my earliest memories, I’m climbing the steps to where I used to live and heading to the front door, but before I’m halfway there, I trip and skid my knee against the stairway’s coarse corners.

(Yeah, my earliest memories involve an embarrassing, toddler-y lack of coordination. Moving on.)

Now, go forward in time a little. As you go, collect your experiences, both positive and negative, and see what was constructive. Relive your memories, and see if you can tie your dreams to them. Do that, and then repeat that step. Do this a lot. As you go, notice how those dreams morphed; notice how your situation changed. Remember times in which you ran into adversity, and then notice the success you ran into thereafter.

Now, set one here, at this moment in time. Do you know how hard you’ve worked up until now? Do you know what you’ve seen, what you did, how far you’ve come, and how much you’ve grown as a result? If you were admitted, you might be thinking, “Yes, and it paid off.” If you weren’t, you might respond, “Well, what good was it for?” If you’re on the waitlist, you might not even know.

I’m here to challenge all three of those positions.

Being accepted, rejected, or waitlisted isn’t the end of anything but a phase, which will ultimately pale in comparison to what awaits. It’s not a time to grow complacent after being admitted somewhere, or to become disconsolate if you didn’t. It’s a time to speculate on what you’ll do next, and to continue dreaming big when you do.

Just remember: every one of you worked hard, and you were all exceptional at what you loved to do. That’s why you applied here, why you were seriously considered. You’ve touched the hearts and souls of more than one admissions officer here at MIT. If you can do that to just a handful of people, imagine what you can do for the world.

You’d know this much better than what I would. Your lives embody persistence, resilience, curiosity, boldness, and hard work. You’ve faced moments of uncertainty, and yet you’ve found great opportunities in them. You’ve met challenges, setbacks, and resistance, and in spite of that, you’ve still achieved in many ways. That’s why I suggested setting those reference frames: so that you’ll have them to remember the strength and worth of your diligence.

And it’ll show you that there’s still so much to be done.

That drive to achieve and make the most of any situation will always remain inside of all of you. Just ask your family, your friends, your peers, your mentors, your coaches, everyone who has helped you come this far. They’re all rooting for you, and believe it or not, I am, too.

So seize the future. Let this be the day where you set out to prove all of us right.

10 responses to “Reference Frames”

  1. A year ago, I was completely immersed in the paradigm that ruled the culture surrounding me. Born in northeastern Brazil and having never left the country, I had my vision and goals limited to what I heard at school and home. In terms of a career, that was: I would finish high school, go to college and finally find a well paid job.

    While hoping about being able of changing that course, I met MIT. (I don’t want to make of this another applicant’s cliché tale, so I’ll try to be as spontaneous as possible.)

    The possibility of applying to a university outside my country without leaving my house appeared to me like the Theory of the Double Nature of Light – too idealistic, but, at the same time, completely feasible. I was delighted – and tempted. What I didn’t know in the beginning was that opening an account at the MyMIT page was not only a subscription to become an MIT applicant; it was a subscription to start thinking BIGGER.

    What first seemed to be a distant universe to me, slowly became a comfort zone. As I became familiar with the application process, I found out that MIT wasn’t really outside my reality. Ideas about the greatest institute of technology in the world rested peacefully in my mind as they became more common every day (entropy near zero). At the moment I noticed I was adapted to the new culture, many more things seemed to be within my reach. From that point on, my ambition grew exponentially; my perspective of the world changed from an infinite plane (little angle variations in a circumference can be described as near perfect lines) to a tiny little ball lost in a tiny little universe.

    It’s mid-March and the results are finally out. Although, unfortunately, I was not admitted to the school, I have to say that I’ve never felt so capable. Because of MIT, my goal of finding a well paid job turned into the goal of working to leave society a contribution. Because of MIT, my childhood dream of becoming an airplane pilot turned into a dream of helping the world towards space exploration. Because of MIT, I learned that the world is one.

    What can I say? Thank you so much, MIT.

  2. Banerjee says:

    Emad, it is beautifully written. Maybe it’s because of the timing, or maybe it’s because of what I feel at the moment, but this blog entry to me seems more eloquent than one of Ben’s. So that’s an accomplishment on your part 8)

    Thanks so much for the encouragement. I’m yet to hear my final decision (waitlisted), but I completely agree with everything you said.

  3. Banerjee says:

    Emad, this is beautifully written. Maybe it’s because of the timing, or maybe it’s because of what I feel at the moment, but this blog entry to me seems more eloquent than one of Ben’s. So that’s an accomplishment on your part 8)

    Thanks so much for the encouragement. I’m yet to hear my final decision (waitlisted), but I completely agree with everything you said.

  4. James says:

    Nice, you’re a really talented writer. Love the relativity opening. This should go with Ben’s post as the go-to after decisions.

  5. Tuang '14 says:

    well put, Emad!

    Great Post!!

  6. Piper says:

    Props. This was an amazing post.

  7. Pushpendra says:

    Sandro Rodrigues,
    I can completely empathies with you, You finding your ‘Comfort Zone’ in ‘Distant Universe’, Expanded horizons, and everything you said, it all has happened and is happening to me, all because of me someday serendipitously meeting MIT smile….
    Though I hope when it comes to my turn I get accepted smile

  8. abc says:

    @emad
    lovely post.
    if i have questions about the application process for transfer students and graduates then who should i contact?

  9. Chris says:

    Dude, you are so articulate!

  10. I am a horse says:

    Wonderful post. You guys are the reason I still come back even after being rejected.