Eight semesters over four years at Tech, including a year in the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic,
will teach anyone a lot.
A change of major and stacked course loads over the last two years have given me skills that
should help me succeed.
However, with summers working for coffee shops and railroads and a conscious effort to grow as a person, I believe I have learned more outside the classroom than inside.
To condense everything I have learned into one final article for this paper is a tall order.
The shortest version of what I have learned can be summed up in three words: make the effort.
Tech is extraordinarily difficult a lot of the time. I have dealt with serious personal issues myself, ranging from bouts of depression to loss of family members.
That, coupled with an institution known for rigor, has led to a number of times where it was difficult to do anything that was not directly required to pass my classes and stay relatively healthy.
There is often notable outside pressure from a not-insignificant contingency of Tech people to do nothing more than complain about their stake.
I am lucky enough to have friends who mostly buck this trend, but I have still often been exposed to people who can be best described as wilfully miserable.
When describing someone as wilfully miserable, I am not referring to people with intense mental health issues or people who are having a genuinely difficult time.
Being wilfully miserable is more so those who do nothing to improve their stake despite being able to.
This also refers to people who knowingly take actions that will have negative consequences.
The wilfully miserable are those who wear unnecessary suffering as a badge of honor.
This is not because they have overcome anything but because they revel in the misery of suffering itself.
I am not the arbiter of what constitutes difficulty or suffering and I have immense space in my heart for those who are having a hard time and struggling to find somewhere to go.
For those who have the energy though, I implore you to make the effort in as many ways as you can.
Build support systems, pick up hobbies and reach out to friends who may be having a hard time.
I have been able to get to the point I am now, being someone who is intentionally happy and healthy, by making the effort when I am able to.
I have tried to reach out to friends, both old and new. I have built habits like going to the gym and cutting off work at a certain time each night.
I go for walks and make efforts to enjoy myself, both of which have contributed greatly to my overall mental state.
I did not get to where I am now alone though. I had other friends who made the effort.
I have had friends call me for hours when I was doing poorly, and others have studied with me
for classes where I struggled.
I have learned to take breaks, embrace the chaos and go outside.
Others making the effort taught me to do the same.
By no means do you have to be your own savior, ignore negative feelings or pretend everything is alright all the time.
Everyone does struggle, especially in tumultuous times at a famously difficult school.
However, I encourage everyone to learn how to try to learn and grow and build the habits that make it easier to weather the storm. Ignore the pressure to embrace misery or to revel in it.
Make the effort to help yourself and others, and do not make yourself more miserable than you need to, especially when living life can already be more than difficult enough.