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sometimes when it rains by Alice L. '24

I feel seventeen and seventy all at once

My first impression of MIT was through Math Prize for Girls, and it was mainly just that MIT is cold. And drizzly

Which was then followed by “I have never seen anywhere as crowded as Flour is, and also these sticky buns are really good, and all I want in life is to sit here and stare pensively out this window with strong College Student Vibes and a latte,” 

and then I did a Lot of Math that weekend, 

and took a picture with Janet Qian ‘24 as we joked that this was probably our first and last time ever at MIT, Alice and Janet standing on Killian Court. Maseeh can be seen in the background.

and then we went back home to not-cold-not-rainy California and moved on with our lives.

It’s been raining lately, and I get a weird sense of nostalgia every time I walk past Flour on my way to class in the morning.

Part of me still feels like I’m seventeen and back at Math Prize all over again; that Covid might end and my high school graduation will be in two months; that I’d get to have one gloriously carefree summer and head off to MIT bright-eyed and full of dreams and ready to dive headfirst into fourteen classes and three UROPs and approximately fifty-two clubs; and then I remember I’m a sophomore now, and soon I’ll be halfway done with MIT, and I’ve done nothing but become a little bit sadder and a little less okay and a little less optimistic about the world.

Sometimes I feel like I used to be happy — and then Covid neatly excised a year and a half out of my life — but in some thermodynamically irreversible process, so I can’t even identify how I got to my current gloomy state.

I once said that to a postdoc in the lab I UROP in01 my urop lab is aggressively friendly and probably like 32% of my remaining sanity; I'm glad they exist and will probably ramble more about it later , and he kind of just blinked at me and went,  “You’re really too young to sound that old,” 

…and maybe I really do have too much existential despair for someone who hasn’t even existed for two decades yet.

Last semester took a good whack at my mental health, and I haven’t gotten over that yet. I didn’t do terribly well in my classes last semester, and then my personal life fell apart even further outside of my classes, and I’m still not where I’d like to be — either academically or personally. I’ve dropped one class already this semester, and I might put another on flex P/NR, and sometimes I’m upset that I haven’t just gotten over the events of last semester. Sometimes I’m upset that last semester affected me at all, because there were people who managed to do an incredible job of holding things together during a weird semester, and that wasn’t me.

But maybe I really am too young to sound this old.

I’m trying to tell myself that there’s not much I can do about the past, and that there’s not much I can do now besides put myself back together. I’m trying to tell myself that I’m not old, even if I sound old. I’m trying to tell myself that I still have time to go do all the things that seventeen-year-old me dreamt of doing, even if it takes me a semester or two to glue myself back together — not that I actually know where I’m supposed to be gluing things, though, so I might come out of this a little lopsided. 

I can live with that, however, and I can’t indefinitely live as a million little shards of me, so I guess I’ll just keep gluing.

  1. my urop lab is aggressively friendly and probably like 32% of my remaining sanity; I'm glad they exist and will probably ramble more about it later back to text