I don’t really know when I became scared of science classes. In high school I took Biology and enjoyed dissections. Chemistry was fun because my cross-country coach was my teacher and he was hilarious. He also knew who I had a crush on and frequently made my assigned seat next to him, so that made Chem more enjoyable. Anatomy was challenging, but it was cool too. Regardless of when it happened, in college I ended up avoiding science classes as much as possible.
While I was getting my Associates degree I spoke to one of the academic counselors and she suggested Geography as a science option for me. My first thought was “Geography? As in locating places on a map? They have a class for that?” The counselor nicely told me I’m dumb, that it’s more than maps, and that it was easier than my other options of Biology, Chemistry or Anatomy & Physiology. Okay, so she didn’t tell me I’m dumb, but I kinda was. Let’s just chalk that up as another example of college kids not knowing anything and really needing some legitimate guidance through one of the most expensive decisions of their lives. I had taken Astronomy already and it was surprisingly hard and I didn’t do very well. Maybe having an easy science would be a good idea for me.
Now fast-forward to when I was at BYU. I studied Psychology (a decision that I’m sure we’ll talk about in-depth several times) and you had to choose an emphasis: cognitive, social or developmental. I loved social psych and chose that, but we also had to take several classes between the other two for supplemental knowledge. The cognitive classes looked really cool, but there was no chance I was going to take any of them. Why? Because of how science-y the course descriptions were. It scared me.
Fast-forward again to life now. I’m considering a few different options for where to take my career path and guess what? I don’t have the science background to get into those programs so I have to take those classes now. You know, after I’ve been out of school for four years and am not as acclimated to studying and have pregnancy brain like crazy. Awesome.
I’ll be the first one to say that not taking those classes previously was my own fault. Nobody forced me. That being said, nobody encouraged me either. I can’t think of a single teacher or advisor who ever encouraged me to build a strong science background. Or math for that matter. It’s not fair to blame them and I don’t, but how different would things have been if someone had told me that my interests had a lot in common with other disciplines and helped ease my fears? That doesn’t mean I would have changed my major, but my understanding of my chosen major could have been greatly enhanced. I could have developed interests and prepared myself for other educational opportunities.
And maybe I would have appreciated this joke more:
So, maybe we think to ourselves or about others, “If I’m never going to do something that requires a science background, then why should I go out of my way to make that part of my education?” Well, I think there’s more science in our careers than we think.
Take Psychology, for instance. As I’ve matured and learned a little bit more about what I like and how I like helping people, careers like Occupational Therapy and Speech-Language Pathology have become a lot more appealing. Still requires a strong social science background, but absolutely needs Biology, Physics and Anatomy as well. Or take a business major with a great idea for a new product. It would be very helpful to have even a basic understanding of Physics or engineering. A copy writer would have more knowledge to draw from to come up with creative print for her campaigns. An elementary school teacher could feel more confident teaching young students their science units.
In addition to workplace application, science enriches our personal lives.
I actually just finished a Conceptual Physics class and it blew my mind. I loved it! When I read my textbook my husband laughed at me because every ten minutes I’d say, “Whoa. That’s cool!” or “Hey, listen to this!” Shoot, I was having spiritually enlightening experiences at my table reading the sections that talk about what the universe is made of. I frequently think about the things I learned in that class and I feel so much more connected to the world around me. When the watermelon on my counter exploded a month ago, we cleaned it up and immediately afterwards I went online to research why that happened and sure enough–my Physics principles applied. I also understand why you need to roll with punches in order to reduce the impact. You know, in case I ever need that. Because everyone wants to be a ninja.
Last year my husband and I experienced a miscarriage with my first pregnancy and I ended up learning more about the female body during that time than I ever had before. It was a rough period of loathing my body for not working correctly and being amazed by how it’s supposed to function. Trying to get pregnant again was difficult as well and I learned even more. There were so many times as I researched I thought, “Why didn’t I know this before?” The things I learned wouldn’t have prevented the miscarriage, but how did I go so long not knowing how my body worked? Simply learning that I could track when I was ovulating because of a slight increase in my temperature empowered me. I stopped loathing my body and started understanding it. I ended up taking Anatomy & Physiology at the beginning of this year. The Chemistry side of it was still super confusing to me, but I was amazed by the things I learned and became more committed to taking care of this machine.
Whether we use science at work or at home, it’s everywhere. We can ignore it and spend time wondering why things happen the way they do, or we can learn and enjoy a new aspect to our lives. Even better, we can use that excitement to encourage other women of all ages to do the same.
I also feel like if I knew what this meant before I was married, it would have added greater amounts of giggling with my roommates.