Life-Forms of the Bleak Abyss

My first physics test is Monday, and while I am not confident, I am at peace.

I like my teacher. He’s a Russian emigre who taught school in Russia, and here in the States he works at my college as a researcher. This is the first class that he’s taught in some time, I think. He loves physics, he is friendly and helpful, and he is just not a very good teacher. His lectures pass over me like a breeze, depositing little into my mind. I check the clock constantly. He seems to be explaining a lot of concepts but rarely going over the process we need to follow to work homework — and pass tests. I’m not quite sure why I am not following the material as well as I would like, but I’m not. I’m too experienced a student to dread the test. I’ve failed tests before. If you are committed to an education, you soldier on, and hope to do better next time.

And I suppose I am committed. I don’t feel called to my studies the way I used to, which has sent me into a bleak period of depression. I place a lot of value on my work; I’m not someone who can comfortably have a good-enough job. Some people want a fairytale romance (and I suppose that I’m one of them, too, really), but what I really chase is the fairytale job. The one that makes me want to never retire. The work so delicious that I can fall in love with it over and over again.

Is science writing is no longer that thing? It’s too soon to tell. I’m not doing well in my science studies (everything else is a pleasure), but the semester is still young, and Newtonian physics — an area that plays to my every weakness — is just one section of the 2-semester college physics course. You don’t get a divorce over one fight over breakfast. If you love, you devote yourself. If you have chosen well, you let inertia carry you forward past the mind’s babble, hoping for the day it all comes clear again. As I counseled Pyracantha (note that for once I really do seem to be following my own advice!), if you lose track of your dream, fake it until something better comes along.

I am again considering changing my major. But Mass Communications just makes me want to puke. If not science, what? I turned in a research outline to one of my professors, and his comments were wise. He said that I sounded self-deprecating, and that my remarks about my poor math ability weren’t relevant to my research interests. Good God, I think I actually invited a prof to my pity party. He made me realize what’s wrong with me lately — a crisis of confidence. I’ve gone from a passionate race into science into a trudging, grueling intellectual marathon, constantly afflicted by failure and fear.

I’m tired of this fear-based, stress-based life. As I told a friend recently, I don’t think I’ve got a flake of carbon left. I am an anxiety-based life-form. My love of my studies always balanced that, but no longer.

Well, all I can do is move on. Into the test, into the physics class, into time.

Wish me luck.

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