Important Lessons I learned at MIT

There are a few things I learned at MIT, inside and outside of the classroom, that serve me well and will hopefully continue to do so after graduation.  

There’s usually more to a problem that can be initially appreciated

This is a lesson I learned inside and out of the classroom.  The thought that I understood all there was to a problem was one of the easiest ways for me to fail.  Always keeping my mind open to other possibilities was one of the most important things I learned in college.

Make the most out of the resources available

This was challenging for me to learn for two reasons:

  1. I used to take pride in saying, “I did all this by myself.”
  2. I don’t feel comfortable asking for help nor feel entitled to help.

But, I learned that if you push through the discomfort and seek out resources and help, you can accomplish a lot more in a short period. What matters is what you achieve.  

If you can find a quicker path forward by using resources available or asking for help, do it. You can then use the extra time to acquire skills you wouldn’t otherwise be able to develop.

Overcommitting is the easiest way to do a mediocre job at many things

After a good semester in college, I got over-confident and wanted to take on the world. I signed up to do sports for 10+ hours a week, a work-study program for another 10+ hours, and took up a course-load expected to require 60+ hours per week.

I ended up doing a mediocre job at everything. It was a challenging time, a bad situation I created by trying to do too much. After reflecting on the experience, I learned to do fewer things well – to focus.

There’s more to life than what your peers are talking about

Most of us tend to live in a bubble, in which we only think in terms of what is immediately around us. We can quickly lose perspective. Life is much bigger and expansive than what we think about as we try to get through each day.

I remember the first bad grade I got at MIT. I felt scared and upset. Then I sad down and reflected. I asked myself, what is the worst that can happen? I may flunk out of MIT, and if so, then what? I realized that I would still have a loving a supportive family, which I was hugely grateful for, and that I would figure out a good life for myself no matter what. Expanding my view from thinking about the test to thinking about my life as a whole gave me a new perspective and helped me cheer up and move forward.

The problems we face are a small part of what our life is, or could be. While we give them our attention temporarily, we shouldn’t confuse them with our life as a whole.

Balance is challenging – and this goes beyond work-life balance.

To bring balance into my life, I learned to carve out time for quiet and reflection. While work could consume a big part of my week, what threw me off balance was the combination of work and all the commitments I made in my time. I carved out time for academics, extracurriculars, and friends, but somehow forgot to take time to recharge.  

Having some time to unwind, clear up my thoughts, and simply reflect about life, was one of the most important things I learned to do during the past four years.

Most limitations are self-imposed

Over and over, I found myself rationalizing why I didn’t perform at a certain level, only to realize later that they were just excuses. There was someone out there facing worst circumstances and still pulling off the results I didn’t. I had to re-evaluate my thoughts, my priorities, and to commit fully to the things that truly mattered.

Once I started removing obstacles from my head, they disappeared from my life.

Last Updated on August 15, 2020 by Omar Eduardo

1 comment / Add your comment below

  1. agree with all of these, but i saw 1 and 2 and thought, “man, i could've written this.” i don't think i can coherently express how much i struggle with these, even now, but at least i can recognize that these are problems i have, and that i'm glad that i'm not the only one who thinks about this.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.