Fueled by Frustration...

I knew going into today that I was way under-prepared for my first Org II exam. I can’t speak for others (although I speculate that many, many…if not all of us, have had this experience) but at times throughout the course of this journey (especially as of late) I have had to endure this felt sense of unease…the sort of anxiety that arises when you KNOW you SHOULD be prepared, but what you really know is that you are not. What should have been, in fact, as routine as crunching a few numbers and sketching a few molecules (well, maybe not that routine) had now become as daunting as deciphering an ancient codex…I kind of just stared at it blankly, generalizing every damn problem and taking best guesses, feeling the worse with every one of them.

I completely lacked confidence in my understanding of the subject material on this first exam. What makes the situation that much more infuriating is that, conceptually, it just wasn’t that difficult. Not to say, of course, that anything related to organic chemistry can come close to being considered “easy”, but some of the concepts are much more easier to grasp than others (OMG, I hate chair conformations and stereochemistry! But give me a set of mechanisms and reagents all day )

However, what I gleaned from this mini-disaster is that whether you fail or succeed (which is really the meta-narrative of being an OldPreMed is it not?) that choice lies with you…or better yet, with me. While I’m certainly disappointed in this opening salvo, what I do know is that my under-preparedness was solely due to my lack of diligence in trying to master the material (or, in the least, becoming proficient enough to pass the exam). Anxiety leads to frustration (and frustration to disappointment and disappointment, so forth and so on…). Frustration can be just as debilitating as fear in many ways, but just as you (ought to) overcome fear by facing it, you (ought to) channel and convert frustration into a kind of mental fuel to help propel you forward. The key, of course, is that you find out what the source of your frustration is and address that problem first, if not only.

So here’s to being pissed…may it ever aide you in your journey towards success.

…and here’s to exam 2, showing up with confidence borne of masterful preparation and saying,


Sometimes it takes getting a little pissed off to redirect.

Hear, hear!

I’ve learned the hard way not to believe or trust a professor who says not to worry about X. Usually, IME, they are referring to that precise example and not the concept. So I “discovered” that my anxiety and mental blocks are dramatically reduced the more prepared I am. My issue is I will bust out the first test with close to 100%…then slip into thinking that perhaps my time would be better spent only learning “what I need to know for the test” and only focus on that. Which equates to a lower grade…and the cycle continues. At this point, with only a handful of prereqs left my goal is overstudy throughout avoiding the pre/post test frustration and peri-test anxiety which also means mastering the material. Imagine that…

Crooz, you’re right. I’m all too familiar with the “I’m just going to run through this part real quick so that you can have a basic understanding, but you won’t need to know this for the test…”

So why spend precious minutes and oxygen covering the not-so-relevant information? It stands to reason that during the course of 8 or 12 or 16 weeks a professor can’t cover everything, so just stay focused on the material which will appear on the exam.

Thanks for expressing this. I am taking what has now become a year-long breather from finishing my degree as I try to get my finances in order. I’ve been reading these boards to stay motivated and remember my ultimate goal, when I happened upon this post. This post neatly wrapped up my frustrated anger of a summer ago when I took an ungraded intro to organic chem class. So I will spend some time to better conceptually understand organic chem before I return to school to take it for credit. Thanks for the memories .