Here it is. My last article for Frankly Speaking as a student of Olin College of Engineering. What shall I talk about this time?
Maybe I can talk about who I was before Olin, why I came here, and how I changed and developed as a person. That is a very senior thing to do, right? Well, it is not exactly a spectacular story. Those of you who know me have heard some mashed up version of it. Seizures , social isolation, family bullying, imaginary friend, demons , aliens, robots, Frankenstein, Jekyll and Hyde – pick your plot and point of view. Why I came to Olin has very little to do with any of that. I decided to become an engineer because I was building a card tower on an Alaskan cruise and someone said I should be an engineer – whatever that was supposed to be. I decided I wanted to go to a “student made” college because I saw the trailer for the movie Accepted. And since Olin’s college colors were blue and silver, and nicely intersected my previous two decisions, it seemed like a good fit. After I got rejected, I applied again a year later because I simply decided that I would come here.
So that is it. I came to Olin because I am a shallow, impulsive, stubborn, bored idiot…who thought I could figure out how to be a person. In all my time here, I can tell you that has not changed one bit. I wanted to know what it was like to sit with a friend at lunch. I wanted to know what it was like to have a go-to reputation. I wanted to start a company. I wanted to know what it was like to be invited to go somewhere. It all happened (at Olin and at another college) and I am still a shallow, impulsive, stubborn, bored idiot who has no idea how to be a person. I only know how to be me.
Maybe I could give senior advice. Grains of knowledge I’ve acquired through the years—which you will likely disagree with. Like how rice cripies are a valid substitute for rice. How you should go for a walk at night and look up at the stars. If you want to understand what love is, talk to a wall. Don’t assume someone is arrogant just because they don’t tolerate your BS. If you don’t like who you are, then become someone you do. Don’t believe anyone who tells you something is bad without telling you what is good, and don’t believe anyone who tells you something is good without telling you what can be better. Only talk to people who listen. Never apologize for your silence or your opinions, only your mistakes – and always admit when you are wrong. Writing a book is easy; publishing a book takes as much effort and perhaps more time than launching a startup.
Maybe I can talk about things some Oliners say which baffles me. Like how “everyone at Olin is the same.” People tend to associate with people like themselves, who share their values, their views, their interests. So how many Oliners have you taken time to know? No one at Olin is the same—I can guarantee it purely on the fact that people argue and clubs have skimpy attendance. Nothing is more indicative of diversity than people who do not agree with you. Than people who do not prioritize the same stuff you do. Than people whose values are different than yours. And they have every right to be that way as much as you have every right to be who you are.
Maybe I can talk about food privilage and how I think both meat eaters and vegans are…no, I should avoid that. As someone who is allergic to everything but rice, eggs, fish, and a select few vegetables – I will revel in my own privilege of being able to say sushi is the only thing I can really eat at restaurants and not having the burden of other options.
Maybe I could give my shpeel on my problem with the word “feminism.” How using a gendered word to call for the end of gendered words and language is hypocritical. How anti-patriarchism makes a lot more sense. How it is the linguistic equivalent of saying you are an Islamist because you believe in religious equality, but Muslims are an oppressed not-actually-a minority—not because you are actually practicing being feminine or a Muslim. How all these reasons are probably why people keep misunderstanding the feminist message—because it is a constructed word intended to mean something people naturally understand to mean something else. Not because of our perceptions of gender, but because of basic brain pattern matching.
Maybe I can talk about my job choice. How I turned down the first job offer I got with Scholastic and how easy it would have been to take it. But I turned it down because I did not want to be stuck with a job I could have done 4 years ago and thus would have devalued everything I have been working toward. How I ended up with another job offer after 2 months of searching which matched everything I did. How important it is to not take something that is easy and safe, while dismissing your capabilities, just because you don’t have any other options yet.
Maybe I can talk about Frankly Speaking. How all my offbeat, extremely long, very self-centric and controversial articles were an attempt to inspire people to write and incite discussion. To let people know that it is okay to write about anything. That it is okay to be you and have opinions, no matter how weird or controversial you think they are.
A lot of maybes here. A lot of things to think about. A lot of things to say. And I still have no idea what would make a good “last article.” While I am quite obsessed with death in the majority of my writings, endings have never really been my thing.