I was a straight-A student in high school. I graduated with 15 college credits and spoke at graduation. Classes had always come easily to me. However, my first term of college definitely took its toll on me, testing me and pushing me to my limits, but without having experienced it, I wouldn't be the strong and determined person I am today.
I started off my first year of college with an independent mindset, ready to live my own life. I was really excited to be on my own finally, to live in my own space and make new friends and create the life that I wanted. I could honestly be whoever I wanted to be. No one except for a few fellow high school alumni knew anything about my past. It was truly a fresh start. I was excited to take on a career path that excited me. However, nothing about that really turned out as expected.
For some reason, I chose a major that I had never learned anything about before except for in movies and theoretical discussions with band kids: physics. I struggled for the first few weeks of classes, figuring I would catch on soon enough. That was my second mistake, coming right after choosing to take physics in the first place. I was simultaneously taking calculus, which was also taking a toll on me. I was scoring only 37 out of 100 on tests. I ended up dropping calculus and continued to struggle through physics. My first-year seminar which dealt with time travel and quantum physics made more sense than velocity and acceleration to me. It was going to be a long haul.
After about five weeks of college, I changed my major for the first time to vocal music. That lasted for about a week and then I switched to my long time love for English. However, I still had to deal with physics. If I dropped the class, I would be below the number of credits needed to be a full-time student. The rest of the term looked bleak.
The first mid-term came around and I didn't even finish it. I wanted to go full-on Holden Caulfield and staple a $20 bill next to the sorry note that I wrote at the bottom of the exam, but I figured that wouldn't look very good to my professor or the provost if he found out. The second mid-term was worse, happening on the anniversary of a good friend's death, as well as Veteran's Day. I went back to my dorm and had a full-blown panic attack. I didn't know what to do. I ran to the bathrooms and locked myself in a stall. I couldn't think straight. I wanted to drop out. Nothing seemed to be the answer.
However, there is always an answer. Once I finally calmed down, I went outside for some fresh air and I ran into a classmate. She could tell that something was obviously wrong, and I told her everything. She talked me into going to the on-campus wellness center and helped me schedule an urgent appointment to talk to a counselor. I felt much better after the appointment and I felt motivated to make things work.
The next day I went and asked the professor for help, and he was more than willing. I also asked if there were any extra credit opportunities, to which he said he might be able to work something out.
The rest of the term flew by and my midterms weren't the best, but I kept trucking through. After countless nights spent in the dorm's common room starting with one and eventually growing to four other classmates, it was time for the final. I had my notecard with Newton's Laws and other equations on it and I was as ready as I would ever be. I finished the six required questions out of the seven given and walked out actually feeling okay about things. I had done my extra credit that the professor had created for me and I felt good. I dropped off the thank you card that I had written him and walked to lunch knowing that no matter what happened, I was done with physics for the year.
When grades were finally posted, I was shocked to see that I had received a C in the class. All the hard work and almost sleepless nights had paid off. I was relieved and felt empowered. I learned my lesson that with hard work and determination, anything is possible, even an English major passing physics.