What’s on your mind?

Whenever I write for a large audience, I try to center my writing around one key value: inclusivity. I seek to write in a way that everyone can connect with, not seeking agreement but at least an invitation that “Hey, it’s okay to disagree.”

This month, I’ve spent a long time thinking about how to do that. I’ve seen people in so much pain, anger, exhaustion, curiosity, and joy, and I don’t know how to write about it. I knew that I wanted to write something, I was simply bursting with opinions and thoughts. I wanted to move beyond the dining hall conversations about course registration and housing, into something that was new and somehow fresh. I spent days deliberating how to do this, how to create a representative opinion, how to process the frayed fabric of Olin that I honestly feel is best typified by its website – too many unexpected pangs of disappointment with the “Oops! This page cannot be found.” A missing connection that really should be there. 

And then I realized – what if I just ask? Find people in the Olin community, and simply ask them, “What’s on your mind?” Note – the question isn’t, “What do you feel about the OlinTM issues?”, but rather, “What are you thinking about right now?” And that’s intentional. I didn’t want this to be a platform for opinions, but rather a candid reflection of what Oliners are frankly thinking. 100 words. 11 people.

I’m relieved that the semester is ending. I’m sad that the semester is ending. I’m curious to see what’s next. I’m anxious about what will happen next. I’m excited to celebrate Gilda’s inauguration. I’m hopeful that big things are coming. I’m exhausted. I’m eager to be outside, away from email and Zoom. I’m enchanted by blue skies and forsythia and flowering trees. I’m trying to just experience it all. – Alison Wood

Lately with finals, obviously, and the fiasco with suites- that took up a lot of my mind at the time, and eventually I was like, “I’m not going to get a suite”. And then finals are happening. I have a large project to do there that I just came from a meeting. We feel behind but we’re not sure if we’re behind yada yada. And I have other responsibilities and other jobs. I CA, as you know. I’m currently dogsitting, which is a whole lot of work and a ton of back and forth and running from place to place. I haven’t really had space to think so this is nice. – Ben Morris

“How do you disrupt a downward spiral of being disconnected in a way that makes things better? I’ve been thinking about that a lot. Especially because I think there are pent-up frustrations that people have been carrying around. If you don’t know how to release what’s been pent up, or can’t find an outlet, then what? In our culture, we look to our community for support. We seek solace from our community when things aren’t working well, when the rest of the world is chaotic. The community is supposed to be where we can lift each other up. And that doesn’t seem to be happening as much as it should.” – Gilda Barabino

What I’m thinking about is, that the price of Ubers going into Boston is getting ridiculously expensive. Like my first year, it was like 18-20 bucks, maybe 25 on average. That’s expensive, but you’re like “I can make it work”. And I came back from Boston today, and it was 45 bucks. And I was tearing my hair out – like this is ridiculous, it’s a lot of money. And so then I went to Boston three times this weekend, and each time I went it was like “UGH, my bank account is crying”. And it’s not even the stuff I’m doing in Boston it’s just for getting there. – Shashank Swaminathan

What’s on my mind?  Storm clouds and weeping willows.  After this extremely difficult year, I have so many things on my mind and it’s left me overwhelmed.  But I chose images that may represent hard feelings, but are also beautiful in and of themselves.  And that really is what is on my mind – incredible fatigue from a tumultuous year and compassionate acknowledgment that it takes energy to weather a storm and there is comfort to be found in the shade of the weeping willow.  We are tired and strong, stressed and still breathing.  We are here together still.  Adva Waranyuwat

Each of us experiences Olin differently, both because of our own individual vantage point and our roles at Olin. Thus, there is no “the students,” “the faculty,” “the staff,” or “the administration.” The number of people in each of those categories is small, yet none of them are monolithic. We are a collection of individuals, having these very different experiences. At the same time, we are often much more aligned in our goals and desires than we realize. I hope that we can continue to work towards finding a common space, so that we can bring our individual perspectives and strengths to be a better whole made up of all of our glorious, messy, passionate, and brilliant parts. – Anonymous

When the weather’s nice, a man sits on a bench all day blasting music near my house. The other morning a song from the Breakfast Club movie was followed by Olivia Rodrigo’s “Driver’s License.” It’s almost like he’s DJing for the neighborhood; it’s like a soundtrack to his life. You can almost tell his emotions by the songs that he chooses to play. So this has been on my mind: relating to music. Everyone can somehow relate to music, and that got me thinking: “What would I play if people could hear in the morning how I was feeling, and if my music choices would change day-to-day?” – Courtney Beach

There’s a lot of things on my mind. I’m relieved that all my tech weeks are done. I’m sad that all my tech weeks are done. I’m very excited to graduate. I also don’t know where I’m going to live. This weekend was really fun, and I did a lot of cool things, and I feel like I’m really enjoying Olin right now and I’m really vibing, but I’m also so ready to leave. I can’t believe I’m graduating. It still feels fake. SCOPE is a lot of work. And not always fun work. But it’s exciting. A lot of my favorite classes have been not in my major. Like I feel like my favorite classes are not engineering classes. That’s it really. – Shirin Kuppusamy

Graduation. This will be my 17th Olin graduation (that’s all the graduations). That’s a 17th year of saying goodbye to people with whom I’ve grown close. These are people I’ve had the great joy and honor of teaching, learning with and from, growing with, sharing in sadness and joy, talking through topics big (life, justice, futures, and the present) and small (vegetables, shoes, memes). Again, I brace myself for tangled emotions: pride, joy, curiosity, gratitude, and hope plus a definite sadness and self-consciousness about my selfishness as I mourn relationships that will never be the same. – Caitrin Lynch

Something that’s been on my mind a lot recently has been, what do I want to do after graduation? And a tension with what do I feel responsible to do? I feel this responsibility to go into like, climate crisis mitigation. But that’s doesn’t necessarily bring me a lot of joy? It’s necessary, but also really heavy on my soul to do that work? Part of me wants to screw around and do aerospace or robotics or things that feel fun but not meaningful. Yet I feel this responsibility to do meaningful work because I have a skillset for that. Kind of that tension of doing things for me vs. doing things for others and like what my responsibility is as an engineer? – k

Who I am at Olin, who I’m expected to be at Olin, who I let myself be at Olin? What parts of me are core and recognized, and what parts of me are not, and neglected a little bit? And especially if you think about – being in the flow of love. Love for myself, love for one another. Without that necessarily looking like the care that I show whenever I’m a good R2. Or the sort of care that I show if I sit down one on one and have a meaningful conversation with someone. That’s a tendency that I have that I feel very valued in. And I value it a lot in myself. And at the same time it’s felt like as I transition away from this place and have 23 years of living and will have many decades to come, there’s something spreading that – I don’t know – doesn’t quite cut it. – David Freeman

If you made it to the end, congratulations! Looking back, I’m not quite sure why I did it. I guess I learned, I connected, and I grew. And you probably got something different out of it. Um, I didn’t have time for a fancy reflective conclusion (which I suppose is how the seniors feel) – come tell me what you think about it!

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