The Daydreamer

As I stared at the whiteboard, I felt like I was looking at a foreign language. That’s how kinematics felt to me when I first started taking AP Physics 1, and if I’m being honest, the class still feels like this sometimes. 

I decided to take physics because as an environmental science major, I wanted to make sure I took all three core sciences. However, this was by far the class I was most concerned about over chemistry and biology. I always had a belief that I wasn’t a “physics person”, that there were some things I simply would never succeed in. 

I felt incredibly isolated as I noticed there were so few women. I was the only girl in my table group and when we did our first lab, I remember feeling incredibly out of sync. By the time I understood the equations in one dimension, we had already moved into two dimensions.

 Physics always felt out of my comfort zone, but I decided to take the class for the experience and ignore the outcome. (Photo by Karuna Chandran)

I have always wanted to be a scientist, but the more mathematically heavy science and engineering classes always felt a little out of reach. I couldn’t remember where that feeling came from, whether it was simply due to trial and error, or because somewhere I got the message that it wasn’t meant for me. 

I decided that I would never let anyone define the kind of scientist I was. Even though I never really got a chance to explore physics, I had an opportunity now. 

With physics, 80% of the time it can be a struggle for me to internalize and apply the concepts. Nothing quite fits that way I expect it to at first, and I often feel my knowledge is shaky and could fall apart at any second. 

But the other beautiful 20% are the moments of intense clarity where it all makes sense and feels entirely worth it. That feeling of euphoria when I solve the answer correctly, when all of the formulas finally seem so tangible that I can grasp them, is like nothing else I have ever felt.

Before my first test, I was terrified walking into that room, unsure of my own capabilities, but the moment I actually took the test, all of those formulas felt instinctual. It wasn’t a perfect test, but I felt like my fundamentals were incredibly solid.

It may take hours of pouring over textbooks and frantically writing out my givens to solve for my unknown variables. But I will never again limit myself to only one science or one track: I have the potential to do it all.