Dread Before Physics

Mitchell Wright, Guest Writer

Just because you are able to take a high-level course in high school, doesn’t always mean you understand the content. Just because you’ve known about a subject then doesn’t mean you know about it now. I feel like I learned that the hard way.

I remember this certain day as clear as water. At first, the new class was easy to do. It was mostly plugging numbers into equations and doing the operations; it was the easiest thing I ever had to do. I’d say that’s where my false confidence had begun to rise. Then, just as I said “This is easy,” we started adding things like acceleration, and timing, and gravity, and spinning and many more derivations to what we thought were basic. Now we had to compile everything, every element and force, into one and that’s where it started getting hard.

You’d expect it to not get complicated because physics happens around you every day; from dropping your pen to driving your car, it shapes everything around you. The place where you stand is literal physics. However, I would argue it’s among the most complicated idea in the universe, even at a level as basic as high school.

I remember approaching the classroom door that day. Often on days like that, I get a good feeling and some sort of inner voice tells me, “You’ve got this!” I’ve always had good luck on tests and I usually know the subject well enough to do fairly well. Today, however, I felt none of that. I felt neither lucky or prepared.

I had physics as the last block of the day. In each block previous, I would only hear people talking about that class. They were worried and nervous. I walked into the cafeteria in the morning and there I saw my classmates scouring their notes and completing review questions in a hurried scrawl. I could see the nervousness in their eyes as they looked at their work; they were unsatisfied. Even some of the smartest people I knew began to worry.

The last block of the day came sooner than I expected; the day flew by until that last block. Usually, when I saw that dark green door, I felt a bit of comfort; I felt none of it now.

I looked around me and saw nothing but dread and anguish. Every student held out their notes, searching them one last time for something, anything, that could help them. I could feel it though, they were as ready as they could get. As they sat at their small, cramped desks, they wracked their brains to pull as much information as possible. Their eyes searched the room for hints, yet the walls were blank; they could not save us.

I sat in the uncomfortable plastic chair and did nearly the exact same. However, it was too late. The bell rang and the class had started. The teacher approached from outside, clutching those dreaded sheets in his hands. He eyed the room, looking into our souls with his piercing gaze. From his mouth, he spoke, “Here it is, you have all block to complete it.”

He handed the sheets gently into our hands. While they may have been paper, they felt like bricks with the weight they carried. I looked forward and with a shaky hand, I was given a formula sheet by a fellow student.

“God be with you,” they said.

“And with you too,” I responded. The paper laid flat on my desk. With my pencil shaking in my unprepared hand, I started the physics test.