Thursday, June 25, 2015

achieving mediocrity

I got a 72% on my exam.

Oh, the joy I felt when I got that test back. First, shock. Then, my eyes got a little bit watery. I passed. I passed. I was honestly hoping for at least a D. But I passed!

When I took that exam, I was cool as a cucumber. But then I finished all the stuff I knew how to do, and panic ensued. See, my coping mechanism for any emotional event, good or bad, is to cry. It just happens. I got it from both parents. It's a struggle. It's normal for me, but when you see someone else cry, you immediately go "HOLD UP. What is wrong. What is hurting you little flower." At least, I do. People just react, that's all. And I don't typically want people to react; I'm trying to get myself to stop reacting so I can proceed. But here I am, getting all sniffly and teary eyed, sitting directly in front of my professor. He's standing at the computer, I'm sitting right in front of him, and a couple of times, I could feel his eyes burning into my sad pathetic-looking sniffling soul.

But I made it, and I got a 72. A 72!

Anyway, so this class is super difficult, yes? Well, I have the convenience of having an English class, so I'm writing essays every week, essentially, and I work the completely inconsistent cashier job in retail. Some days get a little tricky. Tuesday, I had my regular 4.5 hours of school. I had an hour to eat lunch, change, and go to work. 4 hours of work. I had one more hour, and then I was picking up a friend who I had felt inspired to bring with me to go to the temple. I have institute class Wednesday nights and this Thursday night I had to visit with someone over some important stuff. And with the temple schedule only having open baptistry Tuesday through Thursday at 8 PM, Tuesday was my only chance.

That was the day we learned about arc length and surface area of rotated objects. Not too different from volume of solids of revolution, but different enough, and with these "Chucked up" problems as my professor (named Chuck, mind you) and other students call them, I have to do plenty of homework problems to prepare myself. I almost didn't go to the temple to do baptisms. I almost texted that girl to cancel. I almost stayed home to do some dumb homework problems. But I knew I had to go. The blessings of temple work are always so incredible. Temple attendance has healed me in my deepest hurts. The peace I feel there is powerful. It's my home. So I went. And I did no homework problems on that lovely Tuesday.

Wednesday came around, and I was prepared to score my third 2/10 on the daily homework quiz. The lights shut off in the building, and since we're in the one room without windows, we had to search around for a room with enough ambient light. By the time we got there and learned about mass and hydrostatic force (which was pretty easy thanks to my awesome physics teacher from high school), and quiz time came at the end of class, my professor just turned to us and asked, "Do you guys want to take a group quiz?" A girl in my group knew exactly what to do on the problem, and I got a full 10/10 on that quiz. The blessings of the temple are real.

I was going to talk about how wicked cool hyperbolic functions are, but looking at the length of this entry, I'll save it for next week. We're learning more about them, and hopefully I'll better understand some of it. Euler's number (e) is so fascinating, but I don't really know how the dude got it, or why it works in the natural world so much and why it's literally everywhere. I'm learning the language of gods. I'm in the very beginning of it, and never in this lifetime will I know it all, but it's amazing.

As a final note, NASA named a star "Nasty 1" and I think that's just dandy.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

inception

I've had this blog in my brainspace for a week or so now. But I wasn't intending on starting it until September.

That's when I start "real college", Brigham Young University - Idaho, as a declared physics major heading into my second year of undergraduate schooling. I haven't done much in the ways of STEM at junior college, so it didn't feel right to make this blog until I was really getting into my studies. I haven't even taken a physics class since junior year of high school.

But tonight, as I spent hours slaving over my calculus II material for my exam tomorrow, I realized that now's just as good a time as any.

I'm stressed. Majorly. As much as I want to deny that this is junior college and it's not the real deal, the professor I have for my 8-week calculus course is killer. Just killer. It seems as though half of my class is taking it after failing the same guy's class during the 16-week spring semester. And the way they talk about his exams just gets my blood pressure up there. I printed out the practice exam, and needless to say, I was not let down.

It took me over an hour to get through #1. Granted, it had parts (a) through (o). But still.
And the rest of these problems.... They are worded so complexly, it's a struggle to understand what he wants me to do with the functions. Once I get a hint from the solutions, I'm fine. But before that, I'm lost. I'm hoping it's just the fact that I've been working my brain for a few hours now.

It's so easy to get myself discouraged. It's so easy not to believe in myself, in my capabilities, and all those things. But when I participated in the discussion online about why everyone is taking the class, my professor responded saying that the math department at my junior college is super rigorous. They prepare you for universities; in fact, students often come back and say how overprepared they were. This is an echo of my high school physics teacher. Refusing to teach to the exams, he told us that he would better prepare us for college than any of the other guys. If we wanted proof, we needed to look no farther than the students who sent him emails or came back to visit.

This is a huge trial of my academic career. Calculus II is said to be the basis for all other math. If you can get through it, you can succeed beyond it. This is my first make-or-break test. 8 weeks of rigorous homework, little sleep, and the way my job is going, plenty of hours of work.

But just like any other trial, it will help me to see what I am capable of. It will stretch me and help me to see how far I can go with a prayerful mind and real intent to learn these things. Through God, nothing is impossible. This is not impossible. I can't get discouraged with myself; rather, I should have faith in myself and in the blessings I have been given. I have been promised that I would be able to gain an understanding of this material. I have been told that the things I learn will help me comprehend newer and more complex things. Why should I doubt? Why should I be in sorrow? Why should I fear that Heavenly Father will let me down? He never has before. And He never will. He'll probably give me plenty of lower grades to keep me humble and help me to recognize His hand. But He won't leave me in darkness. So long as I am trying hard and giving my best effort, He will help me and make things known. He'll help me make connections and bring things to my remembrance.

All of this requires such simple things: faith, trust, dedication, and obedience. Such simple tasks on our part brings such amazing and beautiful miracles. I have seen them in my life before, and by having faith now, I will see them again.

Alright, enough procrastinating. I have integrating to do.