Some people believe that life is a lot like Groundhog Day- that you’ll continue to live the same event over and over until you do it right.
Something like that happened to me. I wanted to write about it in case anyone else needs to hear this.
When I was in high school, I took AP physics in my senior year. I remember after the first few days, I wanted to drop. I even filled out the withdrawal form. Except, I didn’t drop. Instead, I forced myself to struggle through the entire year. I spent hours each day trying to learn the material. The class was about an hour and a half, and then I would stay for extra help during lunch. Then, I would either stay after school for more help or go home and do my homework. A few nights a week, I even got additional tutoring. All of that work, and I was still frustrated that I just couldn’t understand. I studied hours upon hours to earn the score of a 1 on the AP test. Clearly, I wasn’t cut out to be a physicist. By that point, I knew I was going into the arts so this didn’t exactly dishearten me. Still, though, it was as if I had something to prove. That I wouldn’t let myself rest until I’d mastered it.
A year of college passed by, and I found myself in the exact same position. I’d been enrolled in a summer online conceptual physics class. I figured since my advisor had picked the class for me, I’d do fine. Which brings me to what happened yesterday, and you’ll soon realize that I really was not fine.
I began my class yesterday. I sat down at the library with my notebook ready, prepared to take on physics again. Several hours of studying later, I could feel my heart pounding faster. My mind started racing and I felt like I’d been catapulted so far out of reality that I was as far out as the stars I’d just been watching slides on. I felt completely overwhelmed, like there was no way I could possibly finish all the material in the time allotted and still do well in the course. It only took a few hours to provoke an anxiety attack. Over a core class. That I was taking online. In the summer.
I know what you’re thinking. “DROP!” And that’s exactly what my parents said. But of course, I didn’t listen. So this morning I packed up my computer, headed off to the library again, and repeated the whole thing over. Except this time, I ended up sitting at the desk with my face in my hands, crying.
In that moment, I knew the situation was so bad that I had to get myself out. I knew that if I was crying over my books on day two, I was bound for a complete breakdown by day ten. So, I did what I wished I’d done my senior year of high school. I emailed my advisor, and I dropped the class.
I have spent the past year learning how to be kinder to myself. I always made life difficult for myself, even if it didn’t need to be. Today, I feel like I passed my test. I dropped the class, and hopefully, I’ll find something that will be a better fit later on.
The wrong thing to do would have been struggling through the class and making a poor grade because I was too stubborn to drop. I finally learned the lesson that there is no shame in knowing what you can handle and what you can’t in life. That doesn’t make you a quitter or a failure. It means you are mature and wise. I’ve proven to myself in my first year of college that I am a smart, capable student. However, I cannot understand dear old Isaac Newton and his many laws and equations, no matter how hard I try. And that’s okay. No one is perfect at everything.
And I feel so much calmer now that I’ve set myself free. 🙂