Materials Girl: Readjusting

Go to the profile of Neil Withers
Mar 27, 2019
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Posted on behalf of Materials Girl

It occurred to me that all this time I’ve had a mistaken notion/approach about my undergraduate education… First year was newly discovered distress in the form of higher standards, 10+ page papers, and relatively detailed lab experiments that didn’t go as well as planned. (98% yield on the first time doing a distillation? Why doesn’t my unknown ether smell like roses?! Hah!) I swore that after surviving such troubles from o-chem, nothing else would be difficult – even if I loved the subject.

The next fall, I realized that organic actually isn’t that difficult – physics was infinitely worse for me. Also, to my chagrin, bombing one final could mean getting one crappy grade that permanently tanked a good GPA. I looked forward to the day I returned to the realm of ~3.8.

During third year, after changing my major, I was introduced to the world of materials engineering, research, and more upper division classes. I wondered how half of my undergrad education was already over and why school was still so traumatic at times. If only I could just get another A and earn Latin Honors, all my troubles would dissipate… Now, with over two-thirds of my final year finished, I’ve almost convinced myself to believe that grades aren’t THAT important. It’s all about experience and adaptation!

The “moral” is, I’ve come to recognize, that there will be hardship at every stage of education – and life. Sometimes it’s unbelievably mind-blowing, depression-causing, head-banging-on-desk, extreme hardship. The difficulties just come in different forms, and once you get used to something, situations change. So it’s not about looking forward to when something unpleasant is over, but figuring out how to make it bearable. Enjoyable, even.

Perhaps I’m reiterating obvious truths, but it should be about the journey. I shouldn’t have the mindset of only looking forward to when my GPA goes back up or when graduation rolls around. You have to stop and smell the roses, right? Just make sure that the whiffing doesn’t make you pass out…


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