If you’re reading this article, I know who you are. You’re probably a freshman searching the web trying to figure out if chemistry is really as hard as people say it is. I don’t even know you, but I can imagine the hope in your eyes. You want me to tell you that the class is passable. You need to know that it’s all gonna be okay. You crave a success story. Well, my friend, I’m going to give you something even better: the truth.
I am a girl who likes to succeed in anything and everything I do. Last semester, chemistry was that thing. I spent all my free time in the library—and I’m not just saying that. The security guard knew me by name, the barista had my order memorized and I once fell asleep on a toilet in the library’s bathroom for an hour.
All in all, I was committed. Seriously committed. I wasn’t like Becky, your BFF who cancelled on girls night for her new boy-toy. I wasn’t like Bob, whose New Year’s resolution to get in shape ended in a scandalous affair with a tub of ice cream. No, I was completely and utterly devoted to passing chemistry, even if I had to fall asleep on a few library toilets to get there.
I walked into my first exam with the confidence of a 2008 Jonas Brother. I walked out with mentality of 2007 Britney Spears, meltdown and all.
Not only did I not know the answers, but I barely understood the questions. Throughout the entire test, I felt like all the useful information in my brain had vanished. All that was left was song lyrics, funny movie lines and a really loud voice telling me that I wasn’t going to succeed.
A few days after the first test, the results finally came in and the only thing lower than my grade was my morale. My friends and parents were supportive, of course. I heard nothing but uplifting comments over the next week:
“They drop the worst test, you know?”
“One test doesn’t define your whole future.”
“You’re gonna be fine, you’ll see. It’ll get so much better”
Even my professor told me not to worry. So, I stayed optimistic. I kept trudging on through the semester. And guess what? It didn’t get better.
In the last few weeks of the term, I realized that the highest grade I could get was a C. And that was only if I got around, oh, a 1,000% on the final. I’m not saying that chemistry is impossible, but I am saying it’s not easy. Weed-out classes are very real and very terrifying. But they aren’t an end-all be-all, either.
People try again and they succeed. People try again and they fail… again. Some people take the class and realize a career in health or engineering isn’t what they want. Some take the class and realize that being a doctor is worth the work. Some don’t even struggle at all. At the end of the day, I couldn’t control how difficult this class was going to be for me, but I could still control what I do after the class. If I want to be the person who tries again and succeeds, I can be that person. If I want to be the person who uses this as an opportunity to better myself, I can be that person. But, if all else fails, at least the security guard in the library knows my name, so it’s not all a total loss.