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MIT student blogger Rachel D. '16

When I Grow Up by Rachel D. '16

In which I contemplate growing up and what I am going to do with my life

When do we actually grow up? Did I automatically become an adult when I turned 18, or was it when I had my Bat Mitzvah at 12?

“When I grow up” is often completed with a “I want to be” or a “I will try to.” We used the phrase when we were little, starting at around kindegarden, to describe the distant future. However, that distant future is now, which is scary as hell.

So what do I want to be when I grow up? Part of me is unsure. The other is like “Hell yeah I’m going to save the world with POLYMERS and CATS.” Really. All I want to do is have my cat (and maybe another one or two… and a dog and a hamster…), work with polymers, and be an EMT. If it gets overwhelming, I can give up helping others through EMTing for a bit to help myself. It’s all figured out, right?

Where is the uncertainty? Polymers, believe it or not, involve a lot of different industries and disciplines. But that’s not it. Life is hard. You have to make hard decisions about polymers and cats and work or graduate school and polymers and cats.


There’s a great future in plastics.

From 3D printing

To designing shoes

To adhesives

To making awesome fabrics

for space

for firefighting

for everyday use


Plastics were and are the future! And you can do so many things with them – that’s why I love studying polymers.

But I’m almost done studying polymers. Hah. That’s not true.

MIT is just the beginning. Looking back at the past four years, I have learned so much through my classes, but even more through the internships and friends that I had. I’m excited for the next step (a real job (I haven’t decided where yet (but I have a couple of options (yay options but this is scary because it’s real life)))), and I’m so happy that I had and have so many opportunities available to me due to my MIT experience.

It was not and is not easy. There was (is?) a point where the thought of being on MIT’s campus made me have a panic attack. It is overwhelming. Remember that when you’re deciding if MIT is the right place for you.

However, I do not regret choosing MIT. No regrets at all. I ended up with a beautiful kitty named Rory.

An amazing education.

And some friends and experiences I wouldn’t give up for the world.

So it’s okay to not know what you want to be when you grow up. Eventually, you’ll get there. And it will be okay. Just make sure it’s your decision, you weigh all the options, and that you’re happy.