I’m taking three classes this semester. That’s 36 units — two technicals and a CI-H, a writing intensive humanities class. It’s a perfectly legal and okay amount of classes to take, and it means that my schedule has a lot more free time for me to do other things and really focus on doing well in school.
It’s a lot of free time for me to be a tryhard. For my technicals, I’m taking 6.006, Intro to Algorithms, and 5.601/5.602, Thermodynamics and Kinetics.
They’re both notoriously hard classes. I’ve heard nightmarish stories about 6.006 from my friends and fellow bloggers, and nothing really could’ve prepared me for the reality of it. It’s a genuine timesuck. Every pset takes me ages to complete, anywhere from 8-12 hours a week. None of it really comes naturally to me, and I have to work my ass off just to keep my head above the water.
5.601 is more or less the same. Apparently it was even worse last semester, to the point where when I was talking to friends about the classes I was planning to take, they vehemently warned me against ever taking it in the fall. I think the course staff realized that, though; they stopped offering 5.60 which is the full semester course and they’re only offering the half semester ones now, which I guess helps to save people’s grades a little more.
Given the difficulty of my technicals, for a while there, I was going to every single office hour offered, two recitation sections for one class, and I signed up for like four different tutoring services. So all of the free time I had from not taking a fourth class went into tryharding 6.006 and 5.601.
Daniel tried to convince me to take 5.12 (Organic Chemistry) with him except on listener, which means I don’t actually have to do the work for the class, I can just tune in to lectures and access course materials and stuff. I thought this would be a great idea because I’m planning on taking it next semester and I wanted to be a little more prepared, because 5.12 is also very difficult, but I went to two lectures before I stopped because I needed that extra time to pour into my technicals. I was like, having the most horrible week of my life and I thought I was going a little crazy so I was like sorry dude, I’m not showing up anymore.
And it just makes me wonder how I could ever survive 48 units now, because it feels like these classes will continue getting harder and harder, and I’m uncertain if my ability to keep up will grow along with them.
What really makes me feel worse is that I also dropped my UROP, and I dropped helping out at Science Olympiad over IAP, just because I really felt like I couldn’t keep up with it.
It feels like I’m a quitter. I’m not doing any of the extracurriculars I used to be really passionate about in high school — which mostly consisted of Science Olympiad and journalism. Like, in terms of journalism, I joined The Tech for two weeks before deciding not to continue with it, which is a bummer considering how when I got into MIT, I texted my friend for hours gushing about how badly I wanted to write for it.
At least I’m still doing Tech Callers and I’ve been consistently fulfilling my shift requirements every week. The perks of working here are pretty great. I get a free movie ticket for every month of perfect attendance.
What am I doing? It doesn’t feel like I’m doing much at all, but I’m also doing so much at the same time. How is that even possible? And that’s not even considering all of the weird social stuff I’ve been trying to navigate this semester, and also juggling my mental and physical health.
I’m just existing. And that’s not a bad thing. (At least it’s what I tell myself. It’s okay to just exist. It’s okay to just exist.)
But there’s this restless, panicked animal in me saying that I should be doing more, more, more, more, more, applying to more internships or doing more extracurriculars or …
Just more than I can handle, but what if I’m just lying to myself and I actually can handle it? What if I’m just being lazy?
Midterm season rolled around. Well, it feels more like it steamrolled me into a human pancake. Even though I was trying so hard, I didn’t see my effort reflected in my exam grades.
Which is fine! One round of bad midterms won’t kill me. I still have the rest of the semester.
Still, the questions remain: am I doing enough? Am I doing too little? What is enough and too little?
I’ve been spending a lot of time with friends individually, but a lot less time just hanging out with my hall in the lounges. There’s a variety of reasons for that, but it makes me a little sad. I feel like I keep entering really strong defined groups that disintegrate a bit and then I go back to being a floater.
I was a floater in high school. I still feel like one in college, but maybe a little less lonely than high school me. I have a pretty good support system and I have friends I can reach out to. And people probably think more highly of me in college than they did in high school.
I guess friendships ebb and flow, wax and wane. That’s a key realization. Another one is that good relationships require lots of care and cultivation, and I’m still trying to figure out how to keep track of them all, but I also am trying to learn that it’s okay if something ends because they don’t have to be permanent.
I drafted most of this blog in early-mid February and I left it here for a month because I got so caught up in my tryharding that I couldn’t finish it. Maybe that’s why this post feels a little disorganized.
Revisiting, most of my sentiments remain the same. I still feel a little lost and confused and like I should be doing more. But I’m doing exactly as much as I can handle.
I think I just need to come to terms with the fact that some people can handle more and some people can handle less and I’m probably the latter category but that’s okay. Because it’ll be okay. I’m really hoping it will be okay.