My fly problem and how it has shaped my outlook for EC year
I open the door to my apartment and it is full of flies. Full of f*****g flies. Oh I hate them so much. I despise them. Now I’m a pretty animal-friendly type of guy. Any-living-being-friendly type of guy. Type of guy who wouldn’t kill an insect unless it is very much inside of my room. But flies I can’t stand. If I had nemesis for a species it would be them. It’s the noise they make, bzzz, and their cockiness in thinking they can go wherever they want inside your property just because they’re so f*****g fast.
I don’t know what’s more disgusting, the fact that they seem to have colonized my living room or that my roommate seemed to happily coexist with them. I spent hours staining the walls of the apartment with the blood of my enemies and cleaning up afterwards (some paper with hot water and soap will do the trick).
I swear they know. Somewhere in their miniscule brain they know I hate them and they hate me. I remember one night years ago that clearly evidenced this fact for me. I had to wake up early the next day, so I went to bed early. Suddenly, at 3 AM, I get woken up by something brushing past my face. I wake up immediately and hear a buzzing sound. It was, of course, a fly. I decided to ignore it. This went on for a couple of days, waking me at some ungodly morning hour.
On the fourth night this happened I decided to put my brain to work, so I set a trap. Now there are a number of things that can lure a fly, but most of them are disgusting. One that is not is apple-cider vinegar and sugar. I set it on my nightstand close to me. Sure enough, like clockwork the fly came and woke me, as every other night. I calmly stood up from my bed, excited for the prospect of finally catching my tormentor. I turned on the light, and there it was drinking from the beautiful concoction I had prepared. Not even thinking about reaching a swatter I used my bare hand to smack the living s**t out of the insect. Water, sugar and apple cider all around my room. I didn’t care, because there on the ground, defeated, was my enemy.
I just got back from Chile, my home country. Back from visiting family, friends and others. Reminiscing and receiving some kind of emotional reawakening that happens whenever one dips back into what’s familiar. Mom’s cooking, Dad’s barbeques, accents and mannerisms that will never feel foreign, binge drinking with friends, contemporary political debates and of course, unwavering loving loyalty from pets.
At times I feel like I have so many more questions than I had before. I’ve answered some, but the difference between new questions and answered questions has grown.
For example, the new flies, are these new flies or descendants from my original tormentor coming to taunt me all the way back to Boston? Why do f*****g flies exist?
See now I have more questions and this piece is about questions. Questions and answers arise from experience, which is a way of saying that when you try something new, you learn some things about it and if it’s interesting, you’ll want to learn more and ask more questions. RC year was a lot like that for me. So let’s get back to the questions.
What are my new questions?
Where did RC year go? Where is all that time I had to reflect and decide? It’s halfway gone now!
What are my hopes for EC year? What do I want to achieve? What do I have to adjust from my first year experience to get the most out of it? What does it mean to get the most out of it? What does it mean specifically for me? What would I consider a success? Can I be successful in every aspect of my life? Maybe I should prioritize, what aspects are most important to me? I love meeting new people, what kind of people do I want to meet? People that I won’t ever see again or people that might become my lifelong friends? Should I go to more dinners, parties or 1-on-1s? Should I cut-off or increase my drinking? And healthy eating?
Should I go slack-cold-turkey in class? Should I read cases more thoroughly? Who should I cold-email? Should I talk more to professors? Am I leveraging all HBS resources that could benefit me?—Of course not and it paralyzes me to think that after the MBA the resources I could’ve used will dawn on me and there will be nothing I can do about it.
Where do I want to live? Sunny or cold? Hilly or flat? Snow town or beach town? Close or far from family? Do I care? Am I an apartment or house guy? Hectic energetic city or towny nice homely vibe? And don’t even get me started about recruiting. How am I going to allocate my time? Social, class, sports, family, work, recruiting? What if I get caught up and second year just goes by and I end up not learning as much as I wanted? What type of life am I envisioning for myself? WHAT DO I WANT? What are my goals? And the steps to achieve those goals? Should I start waking up early? Even though Why We Sleep? says I’m most definitely a night owl? But don’t all successful managers wake up early? Do I even want to be a successful manager or focus on something else? Do I want to be rich? What about my hobbies? Maybe my hobbies will become my work? Oh god, does this mean I want to found a startup? How much do those guys work? How much do I want to work? Going back to the real world will be rough; should I take some months off before starting work? How much should I spend? What’s a comfortable indebtedness level for me? Where would I visit? For how long? If I start working, when will I have the opportunity to travel carefree again? Is this the last? Did I remove all the items I needed to remove before the TSA check?
Whatever triggered this black-hole questionnaire I think that when you have more time on your hands (especially when you don’t have to read 30+ pages per day, prepare questions and have a dinner to attend that you are already late to) you tend to question yourself more. Especially in the goldilocks age where you think you are not young enough to feel like you have infinite time or old enough that many of your dice rolls have already been rolled (whatever that age is for you).
I, of course, don’t have any of the answers to these questions, and maybe I never will, but that is ok because questions give direction, and sometimes you just need time and experience to happen in order to answer them. Not all can be answered through sheer blunt thought processing. Never minding the difference between answered questions versus new questions, the important thing is to be positive.
Some random thoughts:
- Greenlights is great, I recommend the audio version. Nothing like listening to Matthew McConaughey go through his philosophies in his hilarious Texan accent
- I hope Delta is the last letter in the alphabet that Covid-19 knows
- Weather in Boston sucks
What are your relevant questions?
Felipe Cerón (MBA ’22) is a Chilean who worked in consulting and retail. He is a musician, and he is an avid fan of films. Getting in a challenging workout, laughing over a beer and reading inspiring books are among his favorite pastimes. He thinks pisco is the best beverage ever created.