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MIT student blogger Alexa J. '20

The Art of Waiting by Alexa J. '20

how to burn some time

There are many things in life that require you to have the ever elusive skill of patience – waiting for the bus, waiting on a friend at a café, or (dare I say it) constantly refreshing the page. I remember when I was in your shoes. Back in the day, I had to do it not once but TWICE because I was deferred the first time around in December. It was torturous, and the clock seemed to tick too fast and too slow. There was nothing I wanted more than to know the decision but I feared the finality of it, all at the same time.

I find the act of waiting (not scrolling on my phone or talking to someone, but just existing) extremely difficult. Scientists say it’s because we have very short attention spans now from our phones and need constant stimulation. Which perhaps is true, but also if I leave my mind to its own devices, I often descend into a deep thought spiral. Then, sitting at the coffee counter, I start wondering if I got the time wrong or the date wrong, or maybe they’re mad because I left them on read for too long last week, or perhaps something terrible happened to them and they’re in the hospital and…you get the point. So I’ve developed some go-to time-burners to get my mind on something else.

Variable weather calls for variable coping mechanisms (especially since you applicants are all over the world!).

Waiting on a nice, sunny day:

Go forth and feel the warmth on you skin! I will be jealous as my lips crack and my skin turns lizard-y in the Boston cold.

  • Workout per Veronica’s wonderful plan!
  • Wander around while listening to some tunes. For some new sounds, check out what the bloggers listen to, a good 2019 variety show: The New York Times 2019 playlist, or a great podcast about music when you want an in-between: Switched on Pop (one of my favorite episodes – on the one and only Taylor Swift).
  • Go explore your city! If you leave your hometown, this could be the last few months to visit your favorite places and/or discover new ones. For example, a lot of yoga studios have community classes that are donation-based or $5, museums and other galleries often have student discounts, etc!

Waiting on a dreary, rainy day:

Grab some popcorn and escape the stress of this world for the stress of another world. Here are some TV shows and movies I’ve been watching for those Netflix and (actually) chill nights:

  • Russian Doll: a Black Mirror-esque show with an actress from Orange is the New Black, basically she keeps dying and reliving the same day. It’s way better than it sounds.
  • The Ballad of Buster Scruggs: these are also all a little bit macabre, i’m sorry.
  • Sorry to Bother You: a psychedelic look at modern day race relations in a world that is just a step away from our own.
  • Her: Ex Machina-esque but less frightening, an unconventional rom-com.

Waiting on a blustery, snowy day:

Doesn’t it make you want to just crawl into bed, a cup of chamomile tea in hand, and snuggle up with a book? We have a lot of these kinds of days over here, so I have many a recommendation.

FYI, I read on my phone or iPad on Kindle and Axis360, an app that most US libraries support to borrow eBooks, convenient to pull out on the subway, in class (shh), or right before bed. Books on my docket (or just ones that I love):

  • For the feel-good types:
  • For the magically-inclined:
  • For the practical / technologist:

So pick your poison, and I hope this helps countdown the final few hours. Best of luck!