at peace

There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed. —Ernest Hemingway

I’m not much of a writer, but every so often I feel compelled to write down all the ideas flowing through my mind. Today is one of those days.

This morning I managed to accidentally lock myself out of my room, which definitely put me out of my element. I was a bit frantic because I had a presentation at 9am, which meant that at the very least, I really needed to get my laptop from my room. Fortunately, I was able to find someone with a spare key to my room, so that minor problem was easily resolved. The moment I stepped foot into my room again after spending an hour and a half in exile, I was determined to make the best out of the rest of the day.

I proceeded to give my presentation at 9am, which I think went pretty well. I got some incredible feedback from my peers. In fact, the feedback was so thoughtful and constructive that I have made a new goal for myself to work on my “feedback giving” skills. Since I’m often afraid of hurting the other person’s feelings, I tend to sugarcoat my feedback, which I realize can do more harm than good. From now on, I challenge myself to develop my opinion more so that I can actually provide valuable feedback to others.

As a side note, receiving feedback from my peers was a nice reminder that I’m fortunate to be surrounded by outstanding individuals, all of whom know something that I don’t. It’s pretty humbling knowing that there’s something I can learn from everyone here.

On a slightly different note, I’m taking an online circuits course this semester, and while there are some challenges to taking an experimental online course, there are some huge benefits. By far my favorite part has been the easy access to professors and course staff. At MIT, office hours are rarely held by professors themselves. More often, undergraduate and graduate teaching assistants are the only ones present at the office hours.

On the other hand, the professor for my online circuits course holds weekly office hours, which I have taken full advantage of the past several weeks. Even if I am already done with all the problems for that week, I choose one of the most challenging ones to discuss with my professor. He always manages to share with me new approaches to thinking about and solving the problems. Discussing the material with other people has certainly helped cement my understanding of core concepts, as well as helped me identify my own misconceptions.

During my first two years of college, there weren’t many professors who knew me by name since I took mostly large lecture classes. Now, however, I actually feel like I have a more personal connection with my circuits professor, which is pretty darn awesome. He makes tea for all the students who visit him, and after we discuss all my circuits problems, we usually have time to just chat and drink tea. We’ve talked about what it was like to attend MIT back in the 1960s, how he met his wife, how pop music is made to sound loud through amplification and clipping, and his super high-quality speakers from the 1960s, to name but a few topics. My weekly visits to see my professor and TA feel less like attending office hours and more like meet-ups with friends to discuss cool topics that may or may not be related to what my professor calls the “art of circuits.”

In short, although college life can get pretty hectic, I feel like I’ve managed to find peace within myself, and I honestly couldn’t be happier.