Calculating Worth


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How do you calculate worth? I’m trying to pull together some thoughts as topics about feminism, education, pick-up, post-college inadequacies and other things that may not seem to be alike, but definitely are on a grander picture, arise more in my conversations with friends and as I notice more (re)postings about such topics from friends and in popular journalism.

Because these topics have come up so much, determine self-worth is definitely something I’ve been thinking about a lot. I was definitely a student who excelled in the extrinsically motivated school system of America. I relished the stickers in 1st grade and the As in high school. When I didn’t pull straight As, I didn’t beat myself up–my face was on every letter of the award hall in my high school and I was voted the most likely to be successful in the senior superlatives!

College definitely gave me a run. I think that I was one of those who was slowly beaten from the inside out. I’ve graduated and I have great memories. I know I’ve learned and grown, and even though I really wanted to be done, I recognize that I have so much more to learn. Especially now that I’m considering next “moves in life,” everyone says you have to “know your strengths.” But how do you figure out your strengths and where does the confidence to declare a strength come from? Clarity or ignorance?

So how do you measure the value of a dynamic person? (I guess I still think quite highly of myself since I assume things will change in the future (and I can only hope for better).) In context? Context of what? I think this is where many people struggle. People will try to compare. Compare to other of similar age, of similar race, of similar means. Or perhaps compare not to other people but the individual to herself. How far has she come. But how much further will she go? Should she go?

I don’t think I have any answers yet. I once had the reassurance of stickers, but now I feel that I have to seek within myself, but this is much easier said than done. I don’t think this post is meant to convey much insight, but rather a glimpse of what is mulling in my head.

Taking the GRE tomorrow


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And of course I’m distracted. I’m not too concerned about the test. I don’t think I’ll score perfectly in every section, but I figure there’s not much use in fretting over things like this. I’ve studied. I probably could have thought about the test earlier and prepared better, but I’ve taken practice tests, identified and fixed some weak areas, and taken more practice tests.

In studying for this test, I’ve definitely realized that my college experiences have shaped the way I do things. I’m a social studier. I like to be near other people. I like occasionally talking to others. I must be plugged in–reading about my friends; reading about the country (and right now the US government is probably more frazzled than I am).

People have asked me to which universities I’m applying. A reasonable question that I meet with the vague commonplace answer of “I’m not really sure.” I’m interested in education, especially science education. I’m interested in the way people interact with objects but I can’t decide which angle I should take: behavioral economics, marketing, consumer psychology?

To be completely honest, I’m taking the GRE out of fear. I applied to a few “safety schools” for my undergraduate education, but I didn’t really fear not getting accepted into a college and I actually think I would have been very happy at any of the institutions. However, the path ahead of me is no longer predetermined–it’s no longer expected that I have to do the next grade of school after the completion of the current one (especially since I’ve already completed 13). That being said, I love learning but I feel like I have a somewhat “old school”/retro-revived mindset and want to learn through experience; I want to learn while working. But I also have the typical unrestrained view of the future for which my generation is so admired and ridiculed. I would ideally like to work like an apprentice of social entrepreneur or great consumer product designer. But because I don’t see the average productive, successful person doing things like this, but rather hiding in the walls of academia for an extra half decade, I feel like I must also hedge my bets and keep open the possibility of gaining a title after my name. And herein is my cyclic internal dilemma of being special without being left behind, different without being socially dejected.

Well, I’ve paid nearly $200 for a potential safety net–one that I may not use and one that may not be able to save me from anything–I should probably try to make it one that is strong.

Walking home in the cold


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…and sort of the dark… (’cause even during a power outage, the city is never dark)

There was a power outage in a large section of Cambridge today around 4:20ish. I was at work in the Community Lab stapling papers (really exciting, I know) when the power went out. Definitely a bit startling. But of course being at a big biotech, the emergency backup lighting came on. I went out in the hall way to see facilities people out on their walkie talkies. I waited a few moments to be sure things were generally safe. Then I finished my stapling and headed out.

When I left, I thought it was just an outage at work and wanted to deposit a check, but then I ran into Sam who had also left work early, and realized that would be a bad idea. So I headed on my way. But as I was walking I quickly realized that traffic was ridiculous –just like the situation–so I decided to be even more ridiculous, and started to walk home and take pictures of MIT in darkness (a sight I never thought I’d see at the the school that never sleeps).

These are some of the pictures I took on my walk home. All iPod photos, but good enough. Had I not been stopping to take photos, I think I would have beat my bus home. Also, it is very difficult to walk against traffic!(I was on a walkway, but I was constantly blinded by headlights.)

Boston on the left; Cambridge on the right. Both are somewhat lit, but in very different ways.

Cambridge on the left and Boston on the right this time. The lights in the sky aren’t stars, but rather helicopters. I saw at least five.

An image after I got to the Boston side of the Charles River. At first glance, this photo probably looks pretty average, until you realize that the row of lights is actually a string of cars along Memorial Drive and the scene looks a lot flatter than it should. Again the light in the sky is a helicopter…

My walk home reminded me that I don’t like hearing the hums of helicopters. Some people know that I struggle with the feelings sirens normally provoke (fear, reassurance, disappointment, defensiveness), but I’m pretty sure that the hum of a helicopter, just induces feelings related to fear. Something is wrong when a helicopter is near, but it doesn’t give me the same reassurance that other emergency vehicles do. I’m not sure I can verbalize why, but I think some of you may understand?

Anyway, that was my afternoon in Cambridge. Just glad I didn’t need to deal with a class of students in panic.

Let’s Dance!


This weekend I had a great time at my boyfriend’s office retreat in Puerto Rico. It was a great weekend with many firsts. However, one thing that this weekend has reminded me is the power of knowing how to dance! I really want to learn how to dance better. I know, I know–a lot of it is confidence. But whether it’s just shakin’ what you’ve got to whatever beat is pumping or salsa-ing to both traditional salsa music and pop songs, being able to show off some moves is impressive! And guys, I’m probably not the first to tell you this, but it sure makes the heart flutter a bit. So I guess this is a post about a goal: learn how to dance with confidence! (Probably a good workout method too…)

Fall Festivals: Highlight #1 Maple Caramels

One of my favorite things to do is to wander random street fairs and festivals–it’s why I like living in cities (though sometimes I wish I lived a little further outside of the city so I can enjoy awesome county and state fairs). It’s just awesome to see the conglomeration of bits of what many people do–a very vague description, but think about food festivals or craft fairs.

On Sunday, I went to the Boston Local Food Festival, which was pretty cool. Lots of stands of different things ranging from local coffee to cooking demos to local restaurants. There I discovered Red Kite Candy‘s maple caramels. So delicious! They had mini samples of their sea salt caramel, chai caramel, and their maple caramel. I tried the maple one first and fell in love. Then of course I had to try the rest, but I was hooked on the maple ones and bought myself a package.

I’m excited for upcoming festivals:

Saturday, October 13th: Food Truck Throwdown: Boston vs. New York

Saturday, October 27th: Boston Book Fest


Today I will learn what it is like to live with only $4.53 cents in my pocket… Silly me left my whole wallet at home, but luckily I had my change purse still in my bag. Makes me really thankful that I have a good job, at least today, to distract me–since I’ll be super busy today–and good friends on top of that. We’ll see what happens… Hopefully, there are lunch leftovers from an event today…

On first encounters


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Depending on how I meet a person, it can take me a long time to warm up to them. Apparently, this happens more than I previously thought. A couple days ago, a friend mentioned (in regard to to my lack of relationship experience) that while he knew several people who had liked me at one time or another, he (and implied the others) found that I was a person who became more and more appealing over time, but I started mostly at a plain Jane sort of level. I found this very interesting and slightly unsettling. This isn’t really surprising, but I wish I made better first impressions on the social scene. In general, I think I mirror people. I think this works to comfort people and build trust in the long term, but because it takes me so long to figure people out, I often wonder if I miss out on opportunities to be good friends with some people or to pry open different facets of people.

On a related topic, I feel like this weekend has reemphasized some things for me. I shut down very easily. I actually don’t do well when I am introduced to someone new by someone I know. The others generally get along well, and I become very silent–and, I’d like to think, very observant. I do much better one-on-one, but even then it’s definitely a race between finding the right talking topic and draining myself out just thinking about new topics.

I know in the past, I did the best on first encounters when I assumed that all others were on the same playing field as I am. But the more I move out of the school arena, the more obvious it becomes that things will never again be on an even playing field. People work off connections. And right now while I know I have some connections, I struggle to take advantage of the connections to properly present myself in a positive light. And because I apparently take so long to get on people’s radar, I seem to be running into issues grasping/holding people’s attention. At least it’s something I’m conscious of.

Evening thunderstorms


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While dark morning showers tend to make me sad, sometimes nothing beats sitting and listening to a good thunderstorm. When I have a house of my own, I really want a front porch or a sunroom (I guess my apartment already sort of has one) so that I can sit and enjoy thunderstorms. I also want to get out into the country so that I can watch a thunderstorm from a distance–one of those, perhaps, rosy views of rural life I have.

The day before another untitled day


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Today has been a crappy day or maybe just a crappy morning. I’m not even sure why. True, it’s been a rainy morning, and I generally don’t like rainy days. I also woke up late. Perhaps the day just started on the wrong foot?

But I also think that I’m in a moopy reflective mood today. It is registration day at MIT and classes start tomorrow. This will be the first time in 18 years that I’m not going to have a first day of school. While I don’t think I could handle graduate school now or want to be continually in school. It’s definitely a shift. Since graduation, things have very gradually changed for me. But working in Cambridge, basically on the MIT campus, has made this summer feel like one of my past three summers–like I’ve only been working an internship. (Unfortunately, my job situation may actually reflect that more than I would like…) I guess I’m going to miss going to class.

As I reflect on this summer, there were definitely some accomplishments. I know I want to stay in educational outreach for a while. I have become better friends with a few of my acquaintances. I have slowly adjusted to having people farther away. But of course there are some improvements that I’m still working on. I want to be more responsible. Most people say I already am, and in general I think I am. But I feel like there are some things that I should do more efficiently and stop avoiding, like applying for jobs. I want to continue to get to know more people. I feel like I’m ultimately a people person (one of my big reasons for moving toward education), but I am pretty reserved. I want to develop new conversation tactics, and be more aware of non-verbal communication. There are a ton of little things I want to get done, and I should get them done (like sending cards, starting and finishing a new craft project, get myself on a workout schedule, learn to cook more). So many things–perhaps a different post.

Well, this is life. The beginning of one of my most unpredictable stages of life (at least from the starting line, it seems unpredictable).

One application down


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I just finished my first job application (no, not ever) during a critical time when I should already have dozens completed. My life is in its least predictable state right now–in that this is the first time I don’t know (more or less) what I’ll be doing next month. I graduated from a top academic institution in June, with job in mind but not necessarily secured. Long story short: educational outreach is probably just as risky and tumultuous as a start-up or a service job, only being patient and happy is even more important (while also being a walking encyclopedia). But I want to stay. Interesting. Good thing I’m young right?