024. Inc[onc]lusive

tldr: work hard; work hard

In mathematics, the word Or is inclusive, meaning one option, the other, or both. In this sense, the saying ‘Kill or be Killed’ is as saddening as it is motivating.

The original meaning of this cliche phrase is supposed to be a reason to keep moving forward, and pushing yourself to be ahead of your peers. For me in high school, this meant that I needed to continue furthering my academics and, ultimately, my understanding of mathematics. Because once those four years are up, you are competing with your classmates for spots at a university, and there aren’t enough spots for everyone. Kill or be Killed; get Accepted or be Rejected, but definitely not both.

I had hoped that at the end of these four years I could stop pushing myself so hard. Not in terms of difficult classes– those will only continue to get more challenging (much to my anticipation). Rather, in my mind, I knew that I would be less stressed if I could get into a school with need-based financial aid. Don’t get me wrong, if I didn’t get into such a school, I would’ve taken loans out so that I could go to a university. But what I wanted, [the whole purpose of getting through those four years of high school,] was a break from worrying about finances.

I love my job as a tutor. It is the perfect job for someone who wants to one day become a mathematics professor. What I didn’t love so much, was spending half of my paycheck every month on lunch and sometimes dinner. Or saving about a quarter of my earnings a month for a laptop for college, because I knew I was coming from a community that wouldn’t be able to support me in that regard.

So the thought of being at a university with a good meal plan, great financial aid, and a support system was the light at the end of the tunnel. A semester where I wasn’t forced to have a job to make ends meet. The idea that I would get to have an “easy” semester was what motivated me to get to this point. I know it is a bit idealistic to want the “easy” option, but I never could’ve imagined that this opportunity would be taken away from a global pandemic.

I can’t change the reality that is Covid-19, and it honestly makes sense that not all students are on campus for fall. What I can change, is my situation. One of the biggest reasons for wanting to be on campus (besides financial opportunity), was to be with other students and work on problem sets. Luckily for me, I am a part of an awesome group of 24s who want to move in together in August. In a different state, during a pandemic, ready to start the next phase of our lives.

I full-heartedly think that this is the best plan for me. But, there is still this voice in the back of my mind, reminding me that this is just *so* much more difficult than I could have ever imagined. Granted, when I pictured it, the difficulty level of “if things were normal” was a 0 in my head. It’s frustrating, but it is reality.

The reality is that the word Or is inclusive. One can hope that if they push themselves so hard for so long, that one day things will get easier. In some regards they have, and in others not so much.
The world is not purely Make or Break, Kill or be Killed, or for Better or for Worse. It can be saddening, or it can be motivating, or, it can be both. What it is, is frustrating, confusing, and worrisome. I choose to believe that in the end, these vexing thoughts will work themselves out. But for now, the results are inconclusive.


Published by Paige Bright

Hi- my name is Paige Alexandria Bright. I am a rising junior at MIT interested in mathematics and philosophy. I have been writing this blog since the beginning of COVID. Lets see where this goes.

2 thoughts on “024. Inc[onc]lusive

  1. reminding me that this is just *so* much more difficult than I could have ever imagined » yeah. yeah thats just the facts.

    but youre already here, though—mit doesnt like letting people go. people will do everything in their power now to make sure you dont fall through the cracks. as much as we shade on the admin, theyre still net forces of good.

    Liked by 1 person

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