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MIT student blogger Caroline M. '18

Writing I don’t have time for by Caroline M. '18

hosed into my core

I just took what was hopefully my last midterm of my undergraduate career. But it doesn’t feel like anything worth celebrating about.

I spent the past 4 days studying as much as I could, yet by the time I tallied up the points of the things I even wrote anything down for, they just (maybe)barely totaled 56/120.

This is 6.046, Design and Analysis of Algorithms, whose prereqs are 6.042 and 6.006, both classes I have pretty strong negative memories of.

But it’s a requirement for the new 6–14 major, Computer Science, Economics, and Data Science, along with all three of my other classes this term. 6.036 (Machine Learning), 15.053 (Business Optimization), and 15.276 (Communicating with Data).

I have come a long way since taking 6.042 and 6.006 my freshman spring and sophomore fall respectively. And that was really reflected this weekend in the difference between my study habits then and now:

  • I didn’t study on my bed or got swallowed by my sofa, I actually left my room (from off campus) to study on campus at a desk
  • I didn’t skim through solutions, hoping I’d get something eventually through osmosis. I actually tried practice problems and checked them and learned from my mistakes.
  • I didn’t try to listen to music, which regrettably distracts me from being able to process what I’m reading, and instead put in earplugs to focus.
  • I didn’t just read recitation and lecture notes. This time I marked them all up with short summaries of each section I was reading for later review and cheat sheet copying.
  • I didn’t procrastacook. I made all my food on sunday and have just been eating scrambled egg and chives and rice for lunch and dinners.
  • I didn’t try to study 2 hours before the exam on 2 hours of sleep. I actually kept 8 hours consistently throughout because that’s at least what I need to function and study.

But despite all this, I won’t ever see the counterfactual reality of how I would’ve done, had I not improved my study habits as much as I have. I just see how I barely even wrote legible answers and am hoping for even just 30 points out of this thing worth 20% of my grade.

I’ve stepped back from literally everything that makes me feel alive and like a human being part of society to try and pass this last semester’s courseload. And still, none of that sacrifice or effort feels reflected in this.

And right after I finished at 9:30 tonight, I was hit by just how much OTHER work I’ve punted that is now knocking down my door, making me feel terrible about how much I have to face with no energy or stamina left.

This isn’t particularly new, the sort of post-exam hosedness, but its just even more difficult when its a class you’re putting every second and moment of mental bandwidth and focus and emotional energy and it just spits at you and laughs ha, you thought you could even try.

I’m somewhere between emotionally numb, about to cry but can’t, and in intense stress and fear about if I’m going to graduate and how I (can’t) afford another semester to finish. I know I need to reach out to my s³ dean and the professors of 046 and 036, which btw I am also 2 weeks of homework late and behind on.

All of them have been nothing but supportive and accommodating throughout the various other circumstances I’ve had to face this semester, but I don’t even know what to ask. I know I need to give them a heads up, tell them I am trying and doing things differently and really putting in effort, just in case I end up being a borderline case of C-. But I also just get this massive thing stuck in my chest whenever I think about it.

I’m so disappointed in myself — even though I know that for me, I’ve come a long way and overcome so much this semester to even get here.

Everything I’ve been thinking about the past few weeks, self-worth, relative measures, support networks, just seems to have gone out the window in favor of this habit of self-loathing again. I didn’t even realize that how well I did or didn’t do was being tied to my self-worth until it wasn’t there anymore.

If you observed me coming home to my apartment and how I’ve interacted with my flatmates, you’d think I was passive-aggressive upset at them. They asked how I was, how’d it go, congrats, you survived! but I’ve all but muttered fuck and ignored them.  I love my flatmates so much, and I know they feel the same, but even then I guess I didn’t want them to see that I’m actually hurting so much.  Also, I know that they know already anyway and are just worried about me.  But if I stopped to say, no it didn’t go well and I’m really sad and disappointed and frustrated, I’d have to admit that I’m sad and disappointed and frustrated. (so instead I’m going to admit it to thousands of anonymous readers on the admissions blogs HAHAHAHAHAA)

But 100% of why I’m writing this right now when I’m supposed to be catching up on sleep, is because I need to process and I’ve always written to process when my emotions were overwhelming me.

It has humbled me so much, this semester.

I don’t know what’s going on in the world. I see friends who are struggling and I can’t do anything about it. I am drowning and doing my absolute best to keep afloat, but I don’t even have the salty tears to show for it.

I’m sure I was hosed in past semesters, but not like this. Not being able to do things I care about, with people, really drains me. I wouldn’t be able to do four more years of this without losing parts of me that are absolutely core to who I am. It terrifies me to even feel this close to that. Even more to know that this what so many people go through, for much, much, longer.

If I didn’t have the community that I do have, flatmates that still try to reach out to me even though their post-graduate lives probably have even more at stake by trying to make ends meet, all the habits I currently do have, and friendships from past endeavors that remind me of things important to both of us, it would be so easy for me to lose myself in the jadedness and void of constant disappointment and hopelessness and sadness and fear.

At the moment, I don’t care any more about civic engagement, mental health, community, or the world any more than the next person. And these things are what people know me for and are things that I’ve shown myself I DO care about. Yet even still, it’s only because of the community of people that remind me of who I am at my best, and ~30 days left of IHTFP, am I able to hold faith in myself.


I still feel really empty. I’m really scared about tomorrow and being useless to my 15.053 Optimization project group. In two days I have 6.036 lab and I still need to read the lecture for that and also a persuasive presentation for 15.276 on voting in 2018 midterms.

But I just finished four days of nonstop studying, did my all of the above so that I could to say to myself:

“I did my best, I did everything I could, and that’s all I can do.”

And that if I hadn’t, I’d be that much farther from graduating.

So its past midnight, but I’m going to go eat a fucking green tea mochi and go be an adult and ask my flatmates for a hug.





Don’t be a ghost, say hi <3

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