053. Lists Pt. 2

tldr: even more lists

Ella T. ’25 recently made an addendum to their Things I Know to Be True MIT Admissions blogpost, which read beautifully, but moreso reminded me that for the past two years I have compiled a list. It started was turning 18 at the same time I reached my seventeenth blog, so wrote my seventeenth blog on being 17, and my eighteenth on being 18, the day I turned 18. Of course, this couldn’t continue to happen on this blog– I would essentially have to stop writing all together to continue making the post number line up with my age. This had two lists: 17 Things I Like About Myself, and 18 Things to Change/Do by 19.

A year later, I reflected on these lists and made new ones. I like this tradition. It is nice to see the lists evolve with time, and it is nice to feel the blogs become easier to write. It encourages me to like myself (no easy feat), and inspires me to be even the slightest bit aspirational (perhaps overly so).

Now I’m not going to respond to all of the list blogs I have written thus far, but I will reflect on the ones I wrote last year. It may be useful to read through that blog first but isn’t necessary of course, it’s mostly for me. You, dear reader, can skip ahead to the new lists if you want.

In response to 18 Things I Like About Myself:

  1. God I feel like I persevered again. Last year it was a proud perseverance but this year it feels exasperated. I took the hardest course I think I will ever take possibly ever at MIT (and elsewhere): 18.157, Microlocal Analysis. I love Richard Melrose– the course was developed with such a deep and thorough pedagogy of showing how pseudodifferential operators prove cool things, and so he proved three major theorems in one semester. It was insane, but I wouldn’t have traded it for the world. I do like that I was able to get through it, but at this point am truly debating if I want to dive further into classes or if it’s finally time to commit to research. More on this later.

    And Brass Rats was fun! I got a suit that makes me feel so masculinely feminine in the best way, and Ana did my hair, and the food was amazing. I can really see why it’s important that this happens halfway through out MIT career. Only two more years til I get my degree.
  2. God if only you knew past Paige. I am even more open to the possibility of my career changing now. In fact, I am even debating if I want to be a mathematics professor anymore, because fun fact you can make all sorts of mathematics resources without going to school for 8 more years. I don’t quite know what lies in our future anymore, but this comfortability with the unknown? Is only seeming to grow. Now you would laugh at the concept of only considering graduate school and nothing else.
  3. Therapy is going well! I like the person I have, but frankly MIT Medical needs more therapists, and for numerous other reasons, I am going to go out of MIT Medical to find a therapist I can see weekly. But it was so helpful to have this last year, especially being in person.
  4. So! Many! New! Clothes! In fact, I think we are growing past the poverty mindset. It isn’t as though I am throwing money around, I am still a bit frugal, but I have become so much better at just feeling okay using it. For instance, that fall being in person I struggled so much with feeling comfortable using my meal swipes because of how expensive they are but now I choose to ignore that, because for once in my life I can. I hope this continues to be the case, but I think it will be while at MIT at the very least so it is as good a place as any to start.

    But yeah clothes! Fun stuff.
  5. We taught a class! Speaking in front of others is becoming easier, and more fun. Less of a concept and more of a reality. Let’s hope this keeps happening.
  6. So many backup plans. You know how many classes I have pre-registered? Enough for three different possible course loads I can pursue. I think we may worry a bit too much about not knowing All of the options but coming up with options is becoming much easier.

    Plus! We are gaining confidence! You know why I needed backup plans for my backup plans? I’ll give an example of one of these. Last fall, I wanted to take 18.705 [Commutative Algebra], but was so terrified of the class that I said if it doesn’t work out I could take 18.112 [Complex Analysis]. And if this one didn’t work I could do 18.103 [Fourier Analysis]. And if– you get the picture. I was so terrified of failure and having no safety net. Now we know that failure isn’t such a bad thing, and I feel even more confident walking into a classroom. Not confident that I won’t struggle, but ready to struggle.
  7. I have sent out so many cold-emails this last week. More to come in another blog post but yes this is very good and continues to be true.
  8. We started Hormone Replacement Therapy! It has been so good for mental and physical health. I feel so much more like myself, though very little currently feels to have changed. This is my hot girl summer.
  9. The class on symmetry was so amazing! We derived so many things in abstract algebra without even defining what a group was until near the end, by which time we discussed groups, galois theory, and we even gave a talk on the moduli space of triangles in the plane. Truly a remarkable time.
  10. I hope it feels this way again this year in about thirty minutes.
  11. See 8.
  12. So one thing we couldn’t have expected is becoming a Twitter user. Well, we had a Twitter account last year, but we never really used it. But I have become so much more comfortable putting down math rants or things bothering me or just shitposts. It has been fun! And in doing so, we have had so many cool conversations with random math people, and MIT people, and philosophy people. I really like being able to Talk with cool folks.
  13. Haynes is literally one of the best people I could’ve met at MIT my first year. I have talked to him about classes and life so much, I truly never thought I would have an academic advisor as enthusiastic as him and it was wonderful to see him be the same for my academic advisees. Sadly, next year he is going abroad so he can’t run a seminar but I am still looking forward to talking to him about registration, urops, graduate school, and so much more.
  14. I need to make more cryptic titles like this for my friends. The man with my right shoe. The person with one eye and a killer voice. The fun in functional analysis. etc. Slowly but surely.
  15. I think I continue to be funny. [Insert comment from my parent: funny looking]
  16. They still continued to know me! God, it was heart wrenching to say goodbye after only being here for a month. The next time I will be back is in 8-12 months. But I will be back. I have a new stamp card I need to finish.
  17. Less tutoring than last time, but research this summer! More to come later this blog post.
  18. Entering year three of hosting this blog and entering year two of writing for The Tech. Truly hope I never stop (at least for this blog).

God. I was 18 two years ago. Wild.

In response 19 Things to Change/Do by 20:

  1. Ooooof buddy. We should really know better at this point. But it was really nice to aspire to! Had I written a bit more over IAP surely we would’ve gotten there but we were busy. Plus, it took me a really long time to decide whether or not I wanted to include Tech articles on this blog with the copyright. In the end, yes I did, which increased my numbers a bit because we wrote like 10 times last year for the paper! I will continue to put my favorites on here, but no we didn’t reach blog number 66. Certainly in the next year though.
  2. Another oof babes. At this point, I will either submit it through California and Do it and Do it now, or declare residency in Massachusetts and do it there. I just need to rip off that logistical nightmare bandaid and change my name because I am not getting my degree to my legal name. Am I worried about how many different things have my last name as Dote instead of Bright? Sure. But this is going to happen. I know it. I need it.
  3. We were keeping really good track of this! We got a little tiny notebook and wrote down one new thing we were trying each day. This ultimately stopped due to not wanting to carry around the notebook every day, plus redundancies, but I should do this again for a bit next fall. This was really fun to try, at least for the first month at MIT in person.
  4. Do I know where The Great Gatsby is anymore? No I do not, rot in hell backpack purgatory. In all seriousness, I think these sort of goals need to wait until after undergrad. They are nice to have and to want, but I really think I will like it more after graduating. Life after college: books.
  5. We did this spring when it was back in person! It was nice to hear a bit about active interest in philosophy and to get free lunch. But no one wanted to wear masks. This was the day they announced the mask mandate was ending and they were all so excited. We left and never looked back. Plus, in all honesty, philosophy classes never line up with what I want to take in Course 18. At this point I am not going to major in Course 24-1 and that is a-okay. Dear Zawad and CJ (@ my first ever blog post), I am no longer a child /hj.
  6. I don’t.
  7. I did! One from McCormick, another from MIT Monologues, and lots of ones from the Class of 2024! I want an IHTFP one, but I need one that is the right size, so at some point I will get it but not yet.
  8. I frankly did not. I found out that I don’t like spending time in my dorm room! I want to make it more homey this next year for underclassmen and upperclassmen friends, but frankly part of what I like most about Next Haus is that I can leave in the morning with a backpack and go to class, and come back at 8pm, work/write for maybe 30 minutes, and watch Netflix for hours. I’m hardly there! But decor is nice, so hopefully more this year.
  9. We applied to so many REUs! And we got into some! We got into UChicago’s, which we chose not to go to this year but Peter May said if I want to go next year just to email him. I am deeply considering this. I got into Williams College’s SMALL program, which seemed like it would be so much fun (with Iosevich himself!). I would’ve done that one but I got into SPUR, at which point I decided that continuing to do work with Larry Guth seems like the best option for the upcoming year.
  10. I, have not. Honestly I don’t like it. However, getting back into painting nails, and maybe, maybe, will try to learn eyeliner. Seems fun.
  11. This,,, did not happen. I wanted it to! But god we were so busy. Next year with Adrian on 2East for sure.
  12. I am still so bad at this. I am certainly getting better navigating campus by random numbers, but there are so many all over. Even some a long walk away. I couldn’t even tell you what Next Haus’ number was. But that is okay.
  13. I did! No pics, it was cold.
  14. I did not. But this year! Yes. It will be named blep. RIP pleb.
  15. We did! We joined The Tech, and Lindy Hop, and swing dance is fun, and etc etc lots of extracurriculars.
  16. We did swing dance which has grown into doing the swing club! Might try out for the ballroom club, we will see.
  17. We did not. Year 20 in a row of not going on dates. But hey! This summer we have asked out 2 people and called 4 different therapists, and only 4 of them have rejected you. So. Summer of rejection, but hot girl summer nonetheless.
  18. haha.
  19. We didn’t get a new one last year, but we have a brilliant idea for a new tattoo to get. It involves a fish. Plus your parent gave you cash for a tattoo, so soon.

Now for the new lists. I know, there has been a lot already, but I really like reading these in the future! It is worth it to me, if no one else.

19 Things I Like About Myself

  1. I like my eyes. I know it’s mildly shallow for one of the things on this list to be a physical characteristic of myself but seriously. People always told me I had nice ones before but I never really liked to look myself in the eye. Being on estrogen (and some anti-depressants) has really helped me grow more comfortable in my body and I like my eyes. It isn’t that I don’t like other parts of myself, but this is definitely in the top three.
  2. I like that I can feel the rhythm in music. I can feel the beats and steps in the floor and just go for it. What I like most about swing dance, is feeling in tune with the sound but also keeping in mind the steps and moves to do. This is actually why I like to lead swing dancing– I like conveying to the partner the moves I want to do and helping them through it. I feel like in some regards I may be really bad at communicating with others, but I never feel this way with music. I may be half-white but I am not that white, and I am eternally grateful.
  3. I like that I can notice a problem and try to solve it. This is most seen in two main ways that I really like that I did this year.
    • 18.S097: Intro to Metric Spaces. I taught this class. I taught it. This class covers the material between 18.100A and 18.100B and was desperately needed for the mathematics department. I was able to notice this was necessary (using the help of my friends who struggled through this themselves), but more than that, I was able to fix this, at least a little bit.

      I talked to the right people to make a class like this happen, wrote up 40 pages of lecture notes and problemsets, and taught the class (for-credit!). It was recorded, it had graduate students, and now it is on OCW. God, that feels so cool to say.
    • 18.100A: Real Analysis. Did you know that, even though it is one of the most fundamental mathematics courses meant to introduce MIT students to proof writing, there were no lecture videos on OCW? I know people who really could’ve used this, and thought it would’ve been really helpful. And I knew someone (Dr. Casey Rodriguez), who had asynchronously recorded himself giving lectures for this course in Fall 2020. So with a bit of advocating, 25 lecture videos transcribed, 25 sets of lecture notes typed up, and 10 recitations typed, the course is now on OCW. Is this what Lindrew feels like when he types notes for his class? I feel so useful. It was so much fun and I am glad I was able to help.
  4. I like how I sing. I used to wonder if I wanted to work on changing my voice, but no I don’t. I grew up growing comfortable with my deep voice because I thought I would be teaching with it. And I like it. And even more than that, I like how I sing.
  5. I like that I know basic html and how to use the athenacluster! I have learned how to make an entire basic basic website for myself and it is amazing to see. Link here: The Meta Home Paige.
  6. I like that I can be spontaneous. I have been getting better at being comfortable in the opposite of uncertainty- spontaneity. For instance, last spring I was a mentor for PRIMEs Circle, an MIT organization for high school students interested in mathematics to learn about difficult math and then present it. But one of the students last minute didn’t make it to the presentation with his partner. So, I got up there and presented their half. It was so much fun and very exciting, but I felt comfortable. And it was a really good talk. I am proud of both of them.
  7. I can pack quickly. I never knew how useful this skill was. I can see my life laid out in front of me in objects and clothing and things to figure out how to box/store, and I can just do it. I can put the things in boxes, others in suitcases, others in a backpack, and head out the door to the airport. I wish I gave myself more time to pack this year, but still. I am decisive, if nothing else, when it comes to storing stuff quickly and efficiently.
  8. I am an editor! I edit the Campus Life section of The Tech now, and I think I do pretty well. I can read through something and give feedback on possible areas to explore, restructuring of sentences, etc. It really makes me feel like I read more than I do (@ The Great Gatsby). It makes me feel like I am not half bad at reading literature analytically. And now, I have edited lecture notes for Richard Melrose, am in the process of editing Bill Minicozzi’s manuscript, and it just feels like so much fun.
  9. I can store ideas in my head for a really long time and flush out ideas. Take for instance the blog post/article Giant. I love this piece, but it has been bumping around my brain for the past year and a half. I thought through what I wanted to convey, the different anecdotes I wanted to include, and then sat down and wrote it. It wasn’t easy, but it felt so good to put something I thought so much about on paper.
  10. I like my handwriting. More recently, I have become better at being analogue. In fact, let me change this bullet point. I like my notes for classes and life. I finally learned that I learn best in the classroom with a notebook, pen, and four highlighters (yellow, blue, green, and purple). They are the sort of notes you can refer to later, but if nothing else I can finally feel myself learning. Why haven’t I done this before??
  11. I can talk to others about mathematics without feeling bad about myself and (hopefully) not make them feel bad about themself. My frosh year, I used to talk to other classmates about what they were doing in Course 18 and I used to feel so bad about how behind I was, but now I am just in awe of how amazing MIT students are. It isn’t about me. It’s about how cool math is, and how cool it is to know even a sliver of it. I hope I make others feel good and interested in maths conversations too.
  12. I am finally pursuing open education. I don’t fully know what this mean, but for once I am letting myself dream about what I really want to do in my life when it comes to mathematics resources and why I want to teach. More on this to come in another blog post, but I don’t feel like I let myself dream before. Well, I dreamt, but without considering anything other than the path I was on. Now I feel like I dream just a bit more.
  13. We can type 90 pages of lecture notes in one week. And we can email 10 people different messages in 20 minutes and not sound frantic. It makes me feel professional.
  14. I will go swimming in the Boston Harbor in the middle of finals week because goddammit it sounded fun and I was with friends and I had such a good time.
  15. I have gotten so much better at sitting alone with my thoughts. I used to have headphones in all the time whenever I wasn’t working on school so I didn’t have to deal with existential dread on the daily, but now I can just sit in a tree overlooking the Charles and feel serene. Calm. Quiet.
  16. I am comfortable with the label of neurodivergent. Have I been diagnosed yet? No, apparently it is really hard to be diagnosed. But it feels so right, and I relate to so many friends through this potential diagnosis. If nothing else, it feels comforting.
  17. I know enough cool people in maths and different class years to make connections. I am able to connect two cool mathematical physics folks to talk about their UROPs, or suggest people to talk to about algebraic topology to a friend of mine. I always know that I have my limitations, both in knowledge and ability. But I finally feel like I actually know enough about the resources to really help people connect with others if they want to.
  18. I like my ability to read, if not skim, through difficult maths papers/books. Last semester I read about a theorem *four volumes* into a series of long dense books. And I understood it a bit! And I understood it more after asking the right professor if we could talk about it. This feels amazing.
  19. I feel like I am able to see the bigger picture. Maybe not the bigger picture that will be revealed later or the one that is bigger than that one. But I can finish my semester/year/blog, look back on the years before, and see how I have grown. Maybe this is due to blogs like this one that concretely and discretely line out my thoughts, but I think it is mostly due to personal insight which has taken a long time to feel comfortable with.

20 Things to Change/Do by 21

  1. Get another tattoo. I recently drew this pic that I think would be a really cool tattoo concept:
Outline of human with fishbowl brain (and fish).
  1. I had this idea for a few reasons:
    • The saying “memory of a goldfish”.
    • I asked my friends what being drunk felt like. They said it felt like your brain was a fishbowl and that saying has stuck with me, that imagery is interesting.
    • Love some good surrealism and aquamarine life.
    • This is what my brain feels like with a headache. I lie deathly still in bed, not that I can’t move, but because the water sloshes over the tip of the bowl.

      Plus, I got some money for a tattoo for my birthday, which makes me, want to use it for that.
  2. Explore Boston and Cambridge more. I want to go on a duck tour, go to Fenway for a game, find a cool coffee place I can sit and work. I want to feel more connected with the community because that is how I feel most comfortable in Life.
  3. Go to the dentist. I know it sounds really dumb, but I straight up thought I didn’t have dental insurance. I know it may mean having braces in college but I really want to like my smile.
  4. Go on a date. At least once. Go on a limb. Connect with people you might have to disconnect with later. Go on walks in nature. Go on a hike with friends. Do something for Thanksgiving. Be more connected tldr.
  5. Do some amount of research, whether it’s actual research, or just an analysis reading program. Hell, I really want to ask Larry Guth if I can join his graduate student analysis reading group and I am going to. Worst case, he says no. How bad can that be.
  6. Do something more with OCW. Find another class to type notes for, or develop material with them– simply anything. It makes me happy and is worth it.
  7. Teach again over IAP! I would love to teach intro to metric spaces again, but that hardest part of teaching this was developing the material so I am not really worried on that end. However, I have been thinking about creating a class on “What do I learn when I learn about ____”, where _____ is some major math subject like analysis or algebra. The idea being to give a crash course/cool look into different class subjects of MIT math. Specifically, this is different than the mathematics lecture series as those are often more niche topics. I think even a talk on “why algebra is really about symmetries. Not symmetry as in symmetries of objects, symmetries as in the objects are the symmetries.” I think this could be really cool. But if nothing else, the metric space class again.
  8. Consider, much more heavily, getting a new laptop. I really like the one I have (Window’s surface), but it doesn’t stand up on it’s own. It has a little kickstand but I want something that stays upright. Get that gamer mode on.
  9. Speaking of, get an XBOX controller and get Hollow Knight to 112%. I got really into it over summer and I want to finish it. It is so much fun and gives me something other than literally everything else in my life to do.
  10. Have a coffee talk or two with different maths professors. Apparently there is funding for this to happen? So I want to take advantage of it.
  11. Get a Britta for your room. Hydrate or diedrate. You know what’s wild? I have so many mugs and cups in my dormroom but I never have enough water because it feels like I am leaving my home just for a glass. Which is dumb because it is just down the hall, but it really feels that way. Stay hydrated, drink water.
  12. Get to blog number 75. What can I say, I am an optimist. I really think I can do it if I put my mind to it, but also recognize that if it doesn’t happen then it doesn’t happen. But I want it to.
  13. Start a math blog! I’ve always wanted to do a written version of vlogbrothers, but I don’t exactly have a sibling to write with in that way. However, I have found someone awesome to write math blogs with at least for a bit! Seems like it could be fun.
  14. Try to get an autism diagnosis, or something like this. I know it won’t really change anything, I don’t think it will, but a diagnosis is so affirming, y’know? It is worth at least trying.
  15. Read through some books– math, fiction, autobiography– anything.
  16. Write even more! Specifically, I want to write some blogs that form a collection. Recently, I have been thinking about starting a collection of 3~ blogs on being halfway done with the ‘tvte and being An Adult more whatever that means.
  17. Hang out at Burton Conner, for studying or partying and anything in between. I really like their vibes and I know so many people who are going to live there. I think it could be really fun to just have people around Next I can be friends with that way I don’t feel so alone when I go home for the day.
  18. Do something over your school breaks. Either go home for a week, or fly to England or Australia spontaneously. Do something other than work. Though the work we do is fun it isn’t everything in the world.
  19. Figure out if you want to go to grad school. I have a long rant/blog/something about this I need to write down (that I already have on Twitter a bit) but I have been wondering if grad school is right for me. Though I don’t know that I will have a 100% answer by the end of my Junior year, I would really like to talk to so many people about options and ideas. You dear reader will see why in that future blog post.
  20. Climb more trees, lay in more hammocks, and spend some time staring at the stars.

Dear future Paige,
I think we have grown a lot so far. I don’t know how much we will grow again in the next year. Every time I go back home, everyone says I’ve gotten taller. I can’t imagine why this should be the case, at some point I surely have to stop growing. But apparently I am. Or maybe, just maybe, I am walking a little taller. More confidently. More certain.

It’s funny, the further I go the less certain of anything I am.

“I don’t know what I am going to do tomorrow.” “Isn’t that exciting?”

But I am getting there. I have gotten through two years. I have made some great friends, done some really cool things, and my dude we are only halfway there. So strap in, play the cliche movie montage song “Livin’ on a Prayer” while you finish typing this blog up while you wait to board your flight back to Boston, and buckle up because I am going to take us for a ride.

See you on the other side,
Past Paige

P.S.: Remember when we used to sign off all of our blogs with Paige? That was fun.

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.

4 thoughts on “053. Lists Pt. 2

  1. frankly MIT Medical needs more therapists » true

    becoming a Twitter user » :eyes:

    Dear Zawad and CJ » hello :wave: but yeah lmao

    basic basic website » it has css, which makes it better than most professor websites

    Do something more with OCW » hell yeah

    there is funding for this to happen » yeah there definitely is

    diagnosis is so affirming » this is pretty true!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I would’ve loved to do philosophy but Priorities! And I don’t mind at this point tbh taking classes I want to take, kicking ass and taking names. Also ngl the website format comes from dyatlov’s basic class html code + some of Richard Melrose’s but I’m glad you like it


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