I have realized the cause of my demise, a habit that appeared to have cost me the future that I had always wanted. I’m stuck in a loop.
This loop has put my productivity to a grinding halt. It basically consists of an afternoon ritual of checking the “latest headlines” RSS in my bookmarks (it’s just BBC World), then going to the Unsorted folder and basically looking through every website in the Forum Run section. It basically lets me poll quickly for any replies to my posts. And then I check Slack for any messages, so I scroll back and quickly scan through and see if there’s anything important or worth replying to. After all that, I go and check Discord for any updates and messages on Wiremod. If time, I go and check YouTube for any new videos from my subscribed channels.
But the obsessive part is that sometimes I do this twice. And my mouse itches to go back to Unsorted and start the Forum Run over again. On a totally free day, this can happen 4 times.
Basically I’ve trapped myself. During weekdays I used to check some stuff online very quickly, do homework for an hour to an hour thirty, and then have an expanse of time ahead of me to work on personal projects or pursue something specific I’ve been trying to do for the week. But now this obsessive-compulsive behavior I have gradually developed has turned that after-school time into starting homework at 5:45 PM instead of 5:00 PM as expected. So after finishing my homework, I do another bout of the Forum Run again, just in case I missed something. And then the rest of the time I go look at something on YouTube. The ordeal has killed me.
At this point, I would say something awfully harsh about myself, but I don’t even have the guts for that anymore. I wish I could just start over and do everything correctly. Get my attitudes right. Know who exactly to approach. Finish my homework. Find the right competitions during freshman year, do them early and do them right.
I identified this girl in my class who is also applying to MIT – and this makes me feel even more delusional yet disillusioned. The girl is certainly much more qualified than I am – she took the right courses, made the smart choice of doubling up on science and math early, didn’t relent on any course selections at all. I bet she has an excellent resume at her disposal as well: I would not be surprised if she was accepted. After all, I think anyone would choose her over some boy who has astoundingly terrible hygiene, doesn’t know how to look at people in the face and talk straight without acting like a jerk, and doesn’t actually go out and do things that help people. No, of course not, he hoards knowledge to himself.
I contemplated what she said to me this morning onward to the rest of the day. By the end of the day, my mind was set – by February, she would be cheered as the successful student; and I would be sitting in the corner and think of the most punishing way to end this misery for myself.
Third period serves merely to exacerbate my guilt and disappointment: at my left is former rank 1 talking and laughing and throwing weird things at his friends; in front of me is a semi-professional developer/intern (“he’s special”) who probably has tons more experience in coding than I do; he is the most photogenic of them all and coordinates meetups with his surrounding friends, who are all mostly playing around with exotic Rubik’s cubes (although they are not cubes nor invented by Rubik; they are really just bendy puzzles!); and to my right are a bunch of athletes who are just there because they like the teacher. Not caring about the physics lecture for the unit, which appears to be just a review from last year, I think to myself, “Great, what a waste of time the next two weeks will be.”
Hardly anyone cares about me anymore, maybe except the cat. The only reason people engage in an interaction with me is because they either need help with something or because I need them for something. Probably same goes for the cat. There hasn’t been a girl who has approached me because they genuinely like me, or a friend who has genuinely tried to reach out to me. My parents hardly see me in the day. I see them, on average, three or four times a day, amounting to less than half an hour a day. All my brother wants to do is play a game with me, and only me. There is really only one friend who cares about me, and even then I hardly talk to him, since he shares little in common with me.
I have realized how little I hold in common with Americans. Most of them are completely fine with doing many activities with friends and do not have a strict “family-only” time. But my family does: they expect the weekends to be reserved for family activities only, and activities that I must do have to be planned at least two or three weeks in advance. If it is a friend, then my father expects to know everything about him: his name, his phone, who his parents are, whether or not my father knows him or his parents, where his house is, whether or not the friend can drive, and why I didn’t tell my father about it earlier, and if I had told my mother about it yet. (Naturally she isn’t informed until a week later.)
I don’t feel accomplished. I feel like a “seasoned programmer” but where are the finished projects to ground such a claim? My mother always said, “You’ve done the best you can. Be satisfied with it.” The problem is, it’s not the best I can do. I can do much more than that in my life.
After all, I only wanted to find people like me, and look where this is taking me. It’s turned into yet another 1000-word rollercoaster ride about how I think my life is a wreck, when I should be thinking the exact opposite for my college applications.
I need help.