083. Non-Blinding

tldr: my junior years(s)

blog on MIT Admissions

It’s my junior year, and I am busy working on graduation requirements. I don’t love my classes, but I’m getting through (y’know, relatively). Sometimes people ask me why I’m doing this to myself, but I just tell them that I need to put in this work now for when I apply to schools this upcoming fall. And this is true: most of the classes I am taking are just classes I want to be on my transcript when I apply to college. Even if it might lead to burning out. This is just what my junior year has to be like. This is high school.

Four years later at MIT, and here I am, in the same boat. This semester, I am taking six classes.

18.156: Differential Analysis II
18.158: Analytic Number Theory
18.821: Project Laboratory in Mathematics
18.966: Geometry of Manifolds II
24.140: Literature and Philosophy
and 21M.784: Producing Podcasts.

To be frank, it’s kind of tiring. But when I look at the list above, I can’t imagine dropping a single one. 1) and 4) I just really want on my transcript when I apply to graduate school. 2) is a class with my research advisor, and I’ve never taken one with him before. Plus, he’s a great teacher. 3) is a CI-M (a communications intensive class for my major in major), and for Course 18 (mathematics) you need two of these classes to graduate. I really didn’t want to be putting these off until my senior year. Finally, 5) will complete my humanities concentration in philosophy, and 6) fulfills my arts requirement.

Yet still, as I sit here and write this out– diligently professing my case for why I am taking these classes, I’m left sitting here thinking “Welp, this is my life.” And I realize, that four years ago I felt the same way.

High school is,,,, an interesting time. I’m sitting in classes, taking notes, doing homework. This is most of what I do these days.

I’m putting my nose to the grindstone, and refusing to yell uncle.

But there are these moments– these time fractions of a second– when things feel right. When I’m not stressing about college applications or homework or grades, and I just get to exist.

Like last night: my mom was out of town and I needed to get to my math practice. So, after classes, I rode my bike to the local university. It was golden hour, and I could feel the sun against my face. Non-blinding. Just. There. And I went and learned about math. I felt like myself for a moment, and I still don’t really know who “I” even am yet. 

I still don’t know who I am, but I know that I’ve been having these “moments” more and more recently at MIT. Moments when I’m writing an email, or teaching a class, or sitting in my friend’s room with a bunch of my friends working on an essay, and I realize that this could be my life. I start to see some semblance of adulthood starting to form before my eyes, and in these moments I forget about my six classes

I feel the sun against my face. Non-blinding. Just. There.

It’s been a month since I’ve written my last blog. I’d open my laptop up, and just stare. No thoughts, head empty. I kept running out of energy–emotional and physical. But by not being able to write, I couldn’t refill this energy. I just felt low.

But here I am, trying to write something, because it makes me feel like myself.

My junior year in high school wasn’t so dissimilar to my junior year now. They are eerily very very similar in fact. I’m taking my classes, and completing my graduation requirements, and trying my best to start being the person I want to become.

But, after nearly a month of not writing a blog, I’ve remembered something I learned in high school: I cannot start being the person I want to be if I can’t make time for anything but my classes. I need to make brownies with friends, play video games, and write. These activities look very different in high school than they do now, but the moral of the story is the same:

I need to start figuring out who I am.

It’s weird. Taking many classes makes me realize that taking classes is not who I am. I mean, it’s something I need to do. But who I am is more than that. How do I keep forgetting this?

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.

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