When I first came to MIT for orientation, I was terrified. From the get-go I knew I’d at least be somewhat nervous – you see, I’m not exactly what you’d call a social butterfly, so getting thrust into an environment of totally new people was daunting. However, I did not expect be as scared as I actually was. When I said goodbye to my parents at their hotel, I remember crying on my entire walk back to East Campus. Thankfully, I managed to pull myself together by the time I got back, but only to hole myself up in my temp room on 5E. I could hear people having fun in the courtyard, and I wanted to go down and join them, but I was too nervous to bring myself to.
It was at that moment that I heard a knock on my door. When I opened it, it was another prefrosh temped on 5E.
“This hall has a stripper pole! Do you want to go see the stripper pole?”
I was somewhat taken aback by this, as I did not know this person at all. But, in the heat of the moment, I agreed to go look at the stripper pole with this complete stranger. I remember watching my new friend fumble on the pole, and the whole experience was so wacky and funny that I couldn’t help but forget the fear that I had felt just moments ago. In fact, it was so strange and out-there that I felt like it might be okay for me to come out of my shell too.
I could go on and on about all of the other wacky experiences and wonderful people that East Campus brought me after that moment, but there’s one point that I really want to hone in on. East Campus is the first place I’ve been in my life where I have truly felt comfortable being myself. Growing up, I was always labeled as a “weird” person. At East Campus, I am just a person. I am a person in a community of people who aren’t afraid to be exactly who they want to be. And not only is that community fearless, but it is incredibly inspiring to live amongst. East Campus bleeds creativity from its nearly century-old walls – there is no other place like it. And, most importantly of all, within those walls are the people whom I can confidently call my second family. After all, only family would stay up until the wee hours of the morning helping me with a PSET, or watch my favorite movie with me after a bad day even though they’ve seen it a hundred times, or tolerate the obscenities I sometimes yell at them when playing Smash.
To end this post, I’d like to officially thank the person who knocked on my door that day during orientation. You know who you are, but I don’t think you know how much that meant to me. If it weren’t for you, I might not be as happy as I am today, so thank you.