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MIT blogger CJ Q. '23

you can’t be everything to everyone by CJ Q. '23

you just can't

you just can’t. you actually can’t. you can try but you can’t.

last friday night was the beginning of teammate hunt, a puzzlehunt written with some excellent puzzles. it’s written by teammate, and i know lots of people who helped write, and they’ve all been talking to me and asking me to work on the hunt. so i was looking forward to it for quite a while now, and it’s traditional for people in my living group, floorpi, to field a team for puzzlehunts and work together for a weekend. i did work on puzzles for a while that night, and there were good puzzles! great puzzles.

but there was also an east campus party that night. and i had to say, okay, well, i’m going to the party. i’ll be there for an hour, max, i’ll just say hi to people and then go. well, i said hi to people, and then i kept saying hi to people, and i had an okay time so i stayed around for a few more hours until the end of the party.

and when everyone was leaving and i was hanging around with some other people left on the floor, i realized that… i mean, that was okay. i talked to friends. it was good. but maybe it would’ve been better if i spent that time working on puzzles.

and then last saturday there was an assassins guild game. which i was excited about, because its our first in-person game in forever, and i was excited about the character i was playing too. and the game happened, and it was okay, and there were a lot of new players and it was nice. but it was also six hours that could’ve been spent puzzling.

that night, i did spend time working on puzzles. i stayed at the floorpi lounge and we ordered pizza from domino’s and we worked on puzzles all evening. and the puzzles were good, once again. it was a puzzlehunt i’ve been looking forward too, after all! but… but it was difficult. i lost all of my steam, and i felt zero motivation to work on any of the puzzles. this despite the floorpi team usually being pretty excited about puzzlehunts and usually being one of the faster teams to finish. none of us were feeling it, i guess.

and then on sunday… well, on sunday, i spent some time with a friend, and then did some square dancing with people. and the whole time i kept thinking, wow, maybe i could be working on puzzles. and you can kinda see the pattern.

on one hand… puzzles! this is a part of floorpi culture, and i should do my part to make sure this piece continues and gets passed on, with the impending east campus renovation and all. and my friends all wrote the hunt, and my friends are working on the hunt, and the puzzles are great, and all these people are talking to me about it, and talking around me about it.

on the other hand… all these other things are things i care about too. the first assassins guild game was important, because i wanted to make sure that people were there, and that there’d be enough new players to keep the guild going. and i care about ec parties, and i care about square dancing, and i care about my friends. and i only have so many hours in a weekend.

and then. then there’s applying to internships, and worrying about my resume, and sending application after application to get rejection after rejection, and the game i’m writing, and firehose, which i’m trying to refactor, and my classes, and the problem sets i have to do each week, and that’s just, yes, that’s the things that i worry about, things that i should be doing, things that i tell myself i have to do.

and these are all fine reasons. these are respectable reasons. i could’ve made the choice either way, and from a detached, distant perspective, it’ll probably be fine. either path is something i’ll enjoy. but the problem is that i’m going down one path and staring at the other, wondering what would’ve happen if i’d chosen that instead. and it’d just be so much better if i just stopped. thinking. about. what. i could be doing. and just do the thing. rather than worrying about it.

and when i do the things, it’s not like i even enjoy them a lot. they’re all fine. all okay. and these are all things i care about very deeply, and the reason i’m only doing all of these things in the first place is because i care about these things very deeply, and yet when i do the things it feels joyless. it’s okay, it’s fine, but there’s no joy.

i tell myself everything’s gonna fall apart if i don’t hold it up. and maybe things will fall apart if i don’t hold them up. and i’ll feel bad if things fall apart. and it feels like no matter what i do, something’s going to fall apart anyway. no matter what i prioritize, no matter what i do, no matter how much i do, something i care about is going to die.

something i care about is going to die.

i’m literally writing this in public trying my best not to cry, because i want to. i want to so bad. thinking about all of this makes me feel small, and weak, and powerless. that maybe if i was a different person, a better person, or even just made better decisions, this wouldn’t be happening.

i could’ve taken less classes, and i still could. i could’ve run for less positions. i could’ve stopped. just stopped caring, stopped doing anything. i could care less. i could care so, so much less. i can’t keep doing this. i can’t keep doing this to myself.

and gods, even if i do hold everything up? even if nothing i care about falls apart? i’m going to fall apart.