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The inevitable?

I’ve been hearing the thunderous boom of the second hand being solemnly forced into movement — the pressing of a stopwatch counting up to a time I can’t quite picture. I don’t know precisely when this started, though I imagine it was always there, hidden in the moments that played in the background. Getting into MIT. Starting a new semester. Meeting a new friend.

This experience is exemplified by posts I made nearly a year and a half ago.

    “First math class ever taken at MIT, complete.”

    “First philosophy paper turned in.”

    “First semester done!”

I could feel all of these firsts forming. I was nostalgic for a version of myself who didn’t quite exist yet. And, to be frank, it made me appreciative. I could feel myself pushing the ball up the hill for once. Yet, only Sisyphus knows when his strength will give out. I created these firsts without ever picturing the inevitable lasts.

Then, something changed. I don’t know when, but at some point I started to look at those around me and feel the end approaching faster and faster. I didn't feel this way in high school. I let myself drown in the love and care of my friends. I never pictured myself needing to come up for air. Then I got into MIT, and I felt my first “last” quickly approaching. Tied to the tracks of a train driven by my own motivation. And somehow, I got here.

I am finding it harder and harder to make deeper connections with those around me. Some part of me worries, and to some extent knows, that one day I will have to let these relationships go. Except I don’t really know, do I? Who’s to say that the friendships I make today won’t evolve into something that outlasts my time here? And yet, I hesitate. I feel this subtle anger and frustration at the passing of time. But the longer I dwell on these feelings, the less time I have for anything else.

One of my friends calls me her “kid.” Not quite in the way that we used to when we were kids in elementary school but arguably adjacent to that. More recently, this has started to hurt more. I know this isn’t her intention; her intention as far as I can tell is to express that she cares. And yet, I have the worry that this care will expire.

I haven’t needed a connection like this in a long time. In high school, whether through self-preservation or through necessity, I became independent. I didn’t and still don’t like the feeling of obligation that comes with friendship, and becoming independent helped ease that feeling. I know, of course, that good relationships with other people should come with some amount of obligation. But this obligation shouldn’t be something you want to give up; I don’t want to be a burden that my friends feel the need to retire from.

I feel the train slowly chugging its way along. The light is approaching, and I don’t know if I should feel frustrated with the immovable tracks or with the conductor, ready for what comes next. Whichever the case may be, I am starting to feel a deep sorrow as the picture slowly moves into focus. The second hand is getting ready to breathe a sigh of relief. We are reaching the supposed inevitable.

    First close friend to graduate, nearly complete.

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