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trying to figure it out by Paolo A. '21

an attempt at a goodbye

Whether I like it or not, my senior year at MIT is coming to a close. Classes are done, grades are in, and I’m beginning a senior-year road trip with a group of (vaccinated) friends across a few national parks out west today. (In fact, I’m starting this post on a plane from Boston to Las Vegas). This flight is 6 hours long, but for the past 6 hours, I’ve been trying again and again to write my goodbye01 although i am very, very sure that i’ll throw up a blog every now or then as an alum, and of course will stick around commenting to these blogs.

This post is hard to write. Not in the emotional “I’m not ready to say goodbye” kind of way. Rather, it’s hard in the sense that I don’t know what to write about. Over the course of this flight, I’ve written and rewritten thousands of words, but every time I got close to finishing a draft, it felt like it wasn’t the right thing to say.

Some drafts tried to reflect on my MIT experience, to talk about what was most valuable to me. But trying to rush that process thirty-thousand feet in the air just isn’t working for me. Those kinds of introspections can’t be forced. They will come in their own time. Maybe it’ll happen over the course of this road trip, maybe it’ll take all summer, maybe I’ll need a few months of graduate school to understand exactly what mattered most to me in undergrad. Those reflections will happen eventually, I am sure; I am not the kind of person to push them aside forever. But I must accept that they won’t happen in time for this post.

Some drafts tried to give advice for incoming students, trying to help you make the most of their MIT experience. Some had advice for students who were planning to apply, telling you to not stress too much because all will turn out OK. But I’ve never felt like I was a person who can give advice to other people well; my recent post about choosing lives is built on the idea that advice comes from one’s own experiences, and so the best advice will almost certainly vary from person to person. Every time I drafted some piece of advice, it felt either like an empty platitude or a piece of advice that only worked for me.

I’ve talked before about how I feel weird when I storytell, trying to package my experiences and turn them into a nice, clean-cut story. I don’t have the slightest inkling of what my own narratives are; writing this goodbye post is just showing me how much more introspection I need to do before I can do that for you all.

That doesn’t mean that I haven’t been storytelling. As a blogger this year, I tried to write about things I felt like I’d figured out enough to the point that I could write about them.02 though for many posts, particularly the <span class="md-meta-i-c md-link"><a href="https://mitadmissions.org/blogs/entry/17707-words/">uber</a></span> <span class="md-meta-i-c md-link"><a href="https://mitadmissions.org/blogs/entry/on-success-meaning-and-time/">introspective</a></span> <span class="md-meta-i-c md-link"><a href="https://mitadmissions.org/blogs/entry/continuing/">blog</a></span> <span class="md-meta-i-c md-link"><a href="https://mitadmissions.org/blogs/entry/leaning-in/">posts</a>, I didn’t — and still don’t — have all of the answers</span> I hope these posts have shown one way that people can exist at MIT and go through life, or that my writing has helped you understand what it’s like to actually be a student here, or that I’ve helped you in your own search for answers.

But for some topics — like advice or large-scale reflections about college — I’m not at that level yet. There’s no use in pretending to be someone I’m not on these blogs, no use in trying to write things that I’m not ready to write.  As I talked about in my very first post, one of my goals for this year was to be authentic. To show the parts that are messy. To not feel pressured to make things look neat and tidy when they’re not. And so I guess that the lack of content in this post means that unintentionally, my blogging has come full circle. 

There’s no one last “goodbye” that I have for you all, nothing that you should take with you. Sometimes there aren’t any good messages to leave you with, and that’s OK.

But thanks for coming along my journey of trying to figure it out, y’all. It’s not a journey that is over now, and probably never will be. I wish you the best on your own journeys, and until next time c:

-paolo

  1. although i am very, very sure that i’ll throw up a blog every now or then as an alum, and of course will stick around commenting back to text
  2. though for many posts, particularly the uber introspective blog posts, I didn’t — and still don’t — have all of the answers back to text