DELIA: So I was sitting in my coach’s office for her end of the year meeting, and it’s just me, the table, the coach, and then the two assistant coaches. And she asked me a question. She says, who do you want– who do you think would be a good captain next year?
And I start listing all of the positive characteristics of my teammates. I say Amanda has amazing stick skills. Emma has beautiful vision. Megan can smoke people down the sideline. And I think that’s really incredible.
And I get through all of my teammates. At this point, she kind of leans back and says, stop. What do you bring to the table? And it’s at this point that I realized I had listed absolutely no positive qualities about myself and listed all of these incredible things that my teammates are capable of.
And it’s not because I didn’t think I was good or I didn’t like the way I played. It’s just I was too busy focused on what other people were doing and seeing, what they brought to the table that I completely ignored myself. Three years ago when I came to MIT, I came to MIT with this desire to become like a very pointy person, the kind of person who’s like extremely good at one thing.
It is their passion. It consumes them. They wake up in the morning, and they’re ready to like do calculations about rockets or like practice throwing a ball or something insane.
And that’s like the one thing that they do. And I came to MIT, and I wanted to be that kind of person. I wanted to find my passion. And I wanted it to be difficult and challenging and just hard enough that it was like technically kind of– it was like the perfect thing to do.
Unfortunately, I did not have something that I was extremely passionate about. Like many people, I didn’t know what I loved. And I thought that was fine. It would just take me some time to figure out the one thing that consumed me.
So I came into my freshman year and I decided that physics was going to be the thing. Physics is hard. You study it, and you spend a lot of time on it, and you work really hard. And then you get better.
So I’m sitting in like freshman year 8.01 with twp of my friends, Annie and Dylan, one of whom has already finished most of the MIT Computer Science curriculum at the ripe age of 17. And the other who is in pretty much every acapella group on campus and also plays every single instrument. And on top of that, they both understand physics in a way that I simply do not.
So the professor will explain something. And they’ll start doing the problem on the board, while I’m still writing down the very basic assumptions that he’s made during the problem. And this repeats over and over and over again.
So I decide that this is it. I’m going to dedicate myself to physics. And I started studying pretty hard. Like I spend hours before every exam trying to make sure that I understand the material. And I do start getting it a little bit more, but I realize that I don’t like it that much.
Like I don’t wake up in the morning and like, yep, today’s the day. I get to study for physics. So I’m like, fine OK, physics, not my thing.
A couple of weeks later I decide that maybe rockets are going to be the thing. I’ve built a couple of rockets in high school. Only a few of them crashed in a ditch and ended up with small fires.
So I’m like alright this is it. This is what I want to do. I’m going to be an aerospace engineer and be on the rocket team. And so I go to the first meeting. And I sit in it and I watch this guy do this incredible carbon fiber layup.
He says approximately three words to me the entire time. And then I go to the meeting and all the rocket team kids, they’re having a blast. Like their lives are rockets.
They make jokes about rockets for fun. They’re all wearing rocket T-shirts. Like they wake up in the morning. They do rocket stuff. They go to class occasionally.
And then they do more rocket stuff, and they go to bed. And I didn’t even know that there was that much rocket stuff. And they leave me with this like huge book and all these pamphlets and like 60 links that I have to follow in order to understand rockets on the same level that they do.
And I take this book back to my dorm. And I start looking through it. And I do this for a couple of weeks. Like, I go to meetings, and I think I’m a rocket person.
Then I realize I don’t love it. It’s not that I don’t understand it or never will. It’s just that I’m not super passionate about it.
I’ve learned something from the experience, but I don’t see the need to continue. So I kind of just disappear and do other things that I’m really excited about. So at this point, I’m feeling a little bit lost and confused.
Physics isn’t my thing, rockets aren’t my thing. And I’ve done several other activities this way, where I do it very intensely for a little while, learn something from it, and then realize, I’m not super into it and move on to the next thing. So I turn back to the thing, which has always been kind of my home, my comfortable place: sports. And I decide I am going to become the best field hockey player in MIT history.
This is not true. I am not the best player in field hockey history, but I start spending a lot of time outside of practice, like working on stick skills, and like hitting the ball, and trying to kind of better myself technically so that I can become more proficient. And then I realize I’m not enjoying it anymore, what used to be like a very nice outlet for me to hang out with my friends and talk to them after school and move my body before I start doing P-sets at night has become kind of miserable. And I don’t enjoy it.
And so that’s what brought me into my coach’s office at the end of my junior year. It was just the typical one-on-one meetings. I was very excited to share with her my plans for becoming an incredible field hockey player. And then she asked me that question.
And it’s at this point that I realized that maybe I’m not good at that singular technical thing. I don’t have that difficult passion, that it seems like so many people at MIT do. Instead, what I’m good at is looking at a whole bunch of different things and bringing them all together and bringing out the best in the people around me. And maybe that’s not the pointy technical passion that I want to have, but it’s still valuable. And most importantly, it’s what I like.