The Road – Speedbumps

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Oh my golly, you have no idea quite how hard it is to perform the clackety-clackety of typing until your poor fingers have endured the cold of a Kent State winter. To be fair, some of that frigidness is self-induced. Two brand new sleds have been waiting for this snow since they arrived in my life on Christmas day. It would hardly be kind to make them wait any longer, would it? I didn’t think so. Hence the frigid fingers.

Thawing phalanges and snowpacalypse aside, the first few weeks of the Spring 2014 semester also gave me quite a lot to think about. I had to pause to evaluate myself and the resources and skills I have in my arsenal. The questions: “Can I do this?” and “Am I strong enough?” popped into my head again and again.

To set the stage a bit, I am facing a quantitative methods class, a sociology class, and a behavioral neuroscience class this semester (along with several other classes in a grand total of 17 credit hours, two jobs (so far), and an active extracurricular life). As an ex-journalism major, I found none of those class topics were ever really part of my academic plan before. I never saw myself working with higher-level statistical analysis or discussing the complex anatomy and physiology of the nervous system. I was a writer, not a scientist! Where were the grammar courses? What am I doing?


That is the onomatopoeia I have assigned to those first few weeks. The “eek!” weeks. The “oof!” weeks. The speed-bump weeks.

When you’re off in La-La Land driving through the parking lot of your friendly neighborhood grocery store, every once in a while you encounter a stubborn, raised bit of pavement which constitutes the infamous speed-bump. After letting out a less-than-dignified “oof!”, you are allowed to proceed merrily on your way. But, not before you have been jarred back to the present, your attention refocused. That nasty little bugger called a speed-bump has served its purpose. You are back in the “now.” You are ready to continue.

That, I think, was the purpose of my first two weeks. Having worked my way through a gazillion pages of sociology (halfway through the textbook already!) and having aced my first neuroscience quiz, I am in that happy post-oof phase. Thankfully, I have been restored to the confidence I had at the end of last semester, having maintained my 4.0 yet again. Academics, I promised myself, would not bully me. I’m the big kid on the academic playground.

I also had to do a bit of refocusing, characteristic of the post-“oof” phase. A few pages into my neuroscience book, I realized I actually kind of enjoy this nitty gritty “science” stuff. In some ways, the scientific method allows us to be just as creative as a writer with an endless supply of words. Scientists have an endless supply of questions! What more could an adventure-nerd like me want than a vast array of psychological queries left unanswered?

College is about new frontiers! Some of those will send you onto the “on ramp” of new adventures, to psychology labs and fantastic roommates that toss you into the snow and go midnight sledding and are just your kind of crazy! However, speed-bumps also factor into the equation. They are momentary, prompting an “oof” and a revelation, and then sending you back on your way.

But, you know the greatest thing about speed-bumps? Bumps are tiny. Thing goose bumps. Think the bump you get after a mosquito nibbles on your tasty little self. TINY. TEENSY TINY! One more thought about speed-bumps in life and on the road before you go on your way: The classic “Don’t make a mountain of an ant hill.” If the most cataclysmic thing to happen to you in your years on this Earth are a few “oofs” now and then, you are doing just fine.

Hang in there, my friends, and enjoy the drive!

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