I had a lot of eye-opening experiences in college. I came in as an excellent student, with high grades in all my prestigious AP classes (except calculus because fuck math) and like most 18-year-olds I knew I was invincible. So of course I signed up for Chem 109 and Math 221 (calculus) plus economics my first semester of my freshman year. All classes I needed for my very exciting genetics major.
By the end of September invincible little me nearly crashed and burned. I realized that I may be intelligent, but I certainly wasn’t a genius, and I definitely bit off more than I could chew my first few months at school.
I was embarrassed. I was angry. Angry at myself, but also angry at my major. Stupid genetics, making me retake calculus when I didn’t score high enough on the AP exam (a three is passing people!). Making me take economics when I couldn’t see the connection between supply and demand and how errors in your genetic code give you Parkinson’s disease. So I rebelled.
Life Sciences Communication (LSC) came into my life at the right moment. I got a letter from the professor who became my advisor the summer after my freshman year. After talking with Larry for 30 minutes I was hooked. I marched right to the Bursar’s Office and picked up a second major.
LSC was where I flourished for two years. I took classes in feature writing, visual theory, photography, and marketing. I loved it. Classes were small, my professors actually knew me, and my grades in those classes were significantly helping my GPA.
I still kept genetics around though. I refused to give up. Even when it made me take two horrific semesters of physics, even when I had a 90 minute microbiology lecture at 8:00 a.m. twice a week, and even when other students made me feel stupid. I would not give up. Even when I didn’t know why I was torturing myself. I kept going.
Then I hit senior year. I was still loving my LSC classes, but by second semester I was done with them and had to focus once again solely on genetics. And that’s when everything hit me.
I took two classes that reminded me why I wanted to study genetics. The first was my capstone class where we spent the whole time researching one gene of our choosing and developing a website around it. The professor for that class completely understood the importance of scientific communication, so I not only learned a lot about the gene, I also got my first taste of website development. It was perfection.
The other class was simply human genetics. Finally real people with real problems. No more mice and fruit flies and worm models of diseases. Actual humans. And it was here I remembered why I wanted to study genetics: to help people. I had forgotten for two and a half years. I wanted to be a genetic counselor and help real people with real problems. I’d forgotten, and I was mad at myself again.
I had no time before graduation to get the psychology credit I needed to even qualify for grad school. And I knew there was no way I could go back right away. My brain was tired. I’d been in school pretty much my entire life and I needed a break.
And then life happens. I got a job, moved away, got married, and then REALLY moved away. Sean has always been 100% supportive of me going back to school but I was afraid. Afraid of failing. So much so that I’ve not even allowed myself to take the psychology class I need to even apply for schools. I make excuses in my head: it’s expensive, we are so far away, what if I fail? etc. etc.
But Sean wouldn’t let me give up. And I must say, he wins at Christmas this year. After all the gifts were opened he told me to go check USAA. Confused, I went into our account and saw a fund labeled “Merry Christmas.” Not understanding, he then made me check my email. There was an order confirmation email from Amazon. A psychology book. He’d given me all the tools I’d need to enroll in UW Extension’s intro psychology course that I could use when applying for genetic counseling programs. Everyone else go home, he wins.
And I’m happy to say it was the push I needed. I’m enrolled. I’m a student again. And this is what happened when I told Sean:
Me: Ok. I did it.
Sean: Cool. Have fun studying.
Me: Oh eff you.