“I’ve been tooling all night.” “I’m so hosed.” “IHTFP.” “I just pulled an all-nighter finishing three psets.”
They say you can tell a lot about a culture from its language. And while Inuits might not really have 200 words for snow, here at MIT we sure do have a lot of words relating to stress.
MIT is a difficult place – but you already knew that. The classes are hard. The psets, harder. The exams, stressful. And that’s okay. You don’t come to a school like MIT looking to coast through all four years.
But sometimes, it just all becomes so overwhelming. That combination of classes, psets, UROPs, sports, and trying to maintain a healthy social life spirals out of control, and your self-confidence drops faster than your grades. It happens to everyone sooner or later, if The Tech’s special issue on stress is anything to go by. (If you haven’t read it yet, you should. It’s a superb piece of journalism).
I think these two survey results are the most telling:
When you look at those results from an objective non-MIT viewpoint, it’s kind of incredible. MIT is a place where top minds from across the world come together to learn and work together, and yet 70% of students believe they are average or below average, and 80% of students don’t believe their accomplishments have been particularly impressive.
You don’t need an MIT education to know those perceptions can’t possibly be correct.
I’m just a freshman. I don’t have years of experience to go back on, and I can’t reassure you about the next 3.5 years because I haven’t been through them yet. All I can tell you is what I’ve observed.
To everyone I’ve met over the past three months:
You are, without a doubt, the single most talented and interesting group of people I’ve ever met. You are elite hackers, you are physics whizzes, you are pipette grandmasters. You are fantastic teammates and loyal friends. You are future scientists, researchers, engineers, writers, dreamers, and no doubt some of you will be in fields I can’t even describe because they don’t exist yet. When I think about all the accomplishments you’ve achieved and what you’ll do in the next few years, I’m awed. Every day I can count myself as one of you, I’m humbled. You are awesome. A pset grade can’t change that. A midterm grade can’t change that. Nothing can change that.
We’ve got two weeks left before winter break. Let’s do this.