Outside of Expectations

Technically published a day early. Oh well.

Hello out there! This is actually my first post for this school year, so let me introduce myself: I am Jennifer, the invisible blogger (look under the list of bloggers; I'm not there), and a Junior this year. Pleased to meet you!

There's something about Olin that I have been thinking about for some time now, and the rapid approach of November has made this even more evident (I'll explain why in a moment). Specifically, the way that Olin kind of makes everyone who comes here into the same person. Or, perhaps, we are all extremely similar even before we arrive. Olin's size means that is actually possible: Oliners self-select to be similar. However, that's not always a good thing, because by becoming part of Olin, you have a tendency to forget aspects of yourself. Among people who are constantly working on engineering, staying up until all hours of the night to perfect that last little piece of a project, and generally being perfectionists you become those people.

That was basically what happened to me Freshman year, but I have attempted very hard to change that. I don't particularly want to be a stereotypical engineer--obsessed with perfection, constantly at work on code or in the machine shop working on some new part--because there are so many other things to do in the world. A great example of this is the fact that I do NaNoWriMo.

NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month, and occurs every year in November (see why I mentioned it earlier?). I have participated in NaNoWriMo for the past 5 years, and won the past 4, which means that I have completed a 50,000 word novel in the 30 days of November every year for 4 years. At Olin, people are constantly surprised at this: however for me even the thought of not writing a novel a year is depressing. It gives me a solid object that is completely unrelated to engineering that I can point to and say "I did that." Not to mention, writing 1,667 words every day is really a lovely break from engineering projects. It's just so different, and working through words rather than numbers and programming languages (admittedly still words, but of a different sort) means that you can see the world in a completely new way. It lets me exercise creative muscles that I don't typically use in STEM related fields.

Another example of doing something completely un-Olin/engineering related is what I spent this last summer dong. While literally every other single person I knew from Olin was doing an internship, research project, or studying in some brand of engineering (more than half of them staying at Olin to do so) I worked as a horse wrangler at a ranch in the Rocky Mountains. This entailed working with and interacting with people who were very different from what I was used to at Olin. Most of my coworkers had majored in something horse-related or hadn't gone to college at all. As for the guests...I was basically working a service industry job. And I must say: Never Again. Dealing with people who expected everything to be perfect, and not being able to deliver was extremely stressful, and I swear I will never get mad at people working in that industry for being stressed or slow EVER AGAIN. But that being said, it was a fantastic experience. I got to see a view of the world that I feel is often never seen by Oliners. Far away from civilization, a minimum of modern technology, and living every day with 120 horses. Which, when they're this cute, is just the best thing ever.

This is Joey.

And this is Joker. They're two of my favorites.

So, you might be asking, what is the point of this long explanation of non-engineering things? Well, I'll tell you. Basically, don't tie yourself to forever doing only engineering-related things. There's a whole lot more out in the world to experience.

Also, although I didn't actually end up discussing this a lot, but I still feel that it is important to say, don't feel like everything you do has to be perfect. At Olin, you are surrounded by AMAZING people, who can do PHENOMENAL things, and sometimes it feels impossible to do anything that can compare. But you will always have something that is essentially you, and it's very important that you keep that spark of individuality. That's what will make you stand out as an interesting person, not only at Olin, but also to job interviewers, and in life.

PS. Do NaNoWriMo. It's awesome. And I know this cool app that helps you arrange your characters and plots: http://www.wriget.com/

Check it out.

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