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So much work, so little time…

I’m studying for a quiz, drinking coffee, and occasionally slipping into Pokemon GO. I soooo need more focus. It’s only week 2.

I am enjoying the fact most of my classes are Marine Science, I finally feel like I belong. But at the same time I know any type of failure will kill me motivation-ally.

But as I think about failure I remember how my high school chemistry teacher ruined myself and a whole lot of other students in regards to science. She said if we couldn’t pass her course that we shouldn’t bother being in the sciences. Our first week we had to memorize the periodic table and fill out a blank periodic table. No one passed. It was a heavily weighted test. She intended to set the bar high and crush us. Getting a C in her class was a miracle.

Of course I failed. I went to summer school to make up for it. All my dreams of being a Marine Biologist were flushed down the toilet. I became belligerent towards school – I mean, why try if I can’t get into the field I wanted so badly? I was told I was a failure. I barely made it out of high school after that. I avoided college for several years.

My mother pushed me to do something, anything. So I started at community college. I had to take a science course for a liberal arts degree, and I feared it. I was working at a gas station, briefly dropped out of college and moved to Pittsburgh, PA, then moved back home and started college again while working as a cashier. I got decent grades, eventually quit my job as a cashier to be a student worker at college doing various things – tutoring, receptionist, organizer, etc.

I finally took a science course…and had fun with it. First it was biology. I was traded from the library commons to the labs and became a student lab worker – I was terrified. I was now in a science career, even if minor. I decided to take a chemistry lab…I GOT AN A. I became confidant in working in labs, and I was nailing my courses.

When I explained to my chemistry teacher what my high school chemistry teacher did, she looked at me and said that woman was crazy. Most places don’t require you to have the periodic table memorized, and there are periodic tables all over the place. All our chemistry tests had periodic tests attached. I realized I experienced gate keeping by my high school chemistry teacher – she may have thought she was doing good, but instead she was just hurting her students. I learned later from my other high school classmates that she was the same reason they didn’t pursue science careers. They figured it was way too hard if our high school chemistry teacher was pushing us and telling us not to get into a science career if we struggled with her.

As part of Twitter I also found a couple threads that make me breath a sigh of relief. One was about a woman who constantly failed or got low grades and was now a well-respected PhD. Another was about many lab personnel of all levels (up to and including PhDs) making mistakes in the lab that ranged from small to huge (and expensive). Over all, it made me feel better. Knowing people are in the same boat and that I don’t have to be perfect is a key to success. No one wants to feel alone.

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