I love engineering. It’s always fascinated me, and I’ve loved figuring out how stuff works since I was a little kid playing with legos. I’ve also always struggled with the math and concepts that go into it.
In high school, I joined a robotics team and had the best time of my life. Learning how to use machinery, putting the robot together and competing it was all a rush. It was also where I ran into my first problems. They asked us to work on some simple trig equations, solving for some angles so we could properly design the robot. And I had no idea what I was doing. I could only watch in frustration as other people used math so quickly and efficiently. I felt like a toddler. This continued through high school. I struggled in my calculus classes, watching enviously as the people around me solved problems with ease. The girls on my robotics team knew what they wanted to do, and they had the skills to get there. They never seemed to struggle. They grasped concepts in their fists while I could only poke with my fingers. I felt incredibly insecure.
This continued into college. As a declared mechanical engineering major, I took two calculus classes and this year, I started differential equations and engineering mechanics. I was quickly in over my head. I understand the concepts on the small scale, but listening to upperclassmen talk about the systems of a car or how to solve complex problems makes my mind draw a blank. But I love it so much, and I’m so interested in it. Maybe it’s because I have the attention span of a “goldfish on crack.” Maybe I just don’t have an aptitude for the subjects. All I know is that what I desperately want to be will always be a challenge for me. They say to pick what you love, not what’s easy, and you’ll have a rewarding and fulfilling career. So I’m definitely doing that. I’m lucky to have an advisor that understands, one that is willing to work with me to figure out how I can focus and understand what’s going on.
I really wonder some days if I just don’t have the aptitude for engineering. It’s not entirely that I don’t understand it; I just have troubles applying it. It really sucks sometimes that I have such a hard time with what I’m so interested in. I’m 100% a nerd—I get excited by building things and designing projects. But when I have to solve problems or learn theories, I just go blank. Being surrounded by high-achieving, type-A people doesn’t help also. I probably shouldn’t base my aptitude or enjoyment off of entry-level classes though. It’s good to get the fundamentals, and figure it out later. All I know is I loved robotics and engineering before, and I know I’ll love it in the future. The road may be really bumpy between those two points, but I’ve got a few semesters to figure it out.