Everything I hear about MIT brims with coolness. Uberness, even. Running around in the middle of the night trying to avoid campus police, climbing on top of the dome, putting a car on top of the dome, creating ingenius works of technical brilliance, dressing up the school in homage to the video games of old…it’s almost like the school is too crazy to be real. MIT seems like this mystical place where the best of the best go, and do things that are talked about forever.
Perhaps it’s (counterintuitively) because I’ve heard such great things about it that I could never bring myself to even apply there. It’s like I’m not sure if I’d be the person I envision MIT students to be. I don’t know if I’m smart enough, resourceful enough, creative enough, motivated enough – heck, I don’t even know if I’m weird enough! Stories tell of MIT students creating programs in their spare time that I’ve relied for years, yet even when prompted I couldn’t create a program I’d use once a month. It may be that I can’t do it, but I think it’s more that I don’t want to do it. I don’t want to create something amazing, or to explore the intricacies of something we take for granted. That’s not my bag of fun. Mine usually comes in annoyingly Starforce-protected form.
I suppose it’s best summarized by my vocal explanation to my mother as to why I might be hesitant to apply to an extremely techy school like RPI, “I’m like ‘Hey, compsci is pretty cool,’ while people at RPI are like ‘OMG COMPSCI RULEZZZZ!'” I don’t think I could ever make the change that characterizes those students, and I’d be alienated. I’d be the kid that didn’t do anything crazy; he just passed his classes, hung out with friends, and played lots of games.
Yet when I read it, I don’t feel that there’s anything wrong with that life. In fact it sounds great. I love friends, I love games, and I even love classes on occasion. I could live that life for four years in any other college and I wouldn’t mind. I could live a 9 to 5 life for the rest of my life, with random socializing and games to mix it up, and I wouldn’t mind. It’s only when I see people doing so much more with their lives that I start to get envious. I’d love to be them, but I don’t want to be them enough to do anything about it. Is it possible to be content yet left wanting? Can I really be content when I feel inferior?
This jealousy is going to drive me crazy one of these days.