Proving myself to... myself

Life brings many disappointments as well as satisfactions. Tell us about a time in your life when you experienced disappointment, or faced difficult or trying circumstances. How did you react?

I thought I had it all figured out when I began high school. My future, I was convinced, was in psychology—a field that has always fascinated me and seemed to be a promising career choice. Before specializing in psychology in college, I planned to focus on my science and math classes and to take part in as many science-related extracurricular activities as possible.

Unfortunately, not everything goes as planned. The problem I encountered was that I soon lost confidence in my ability to do well in science and math classes. My sophomore chemistry class was an especially frustrating experience, thanks to the combination of a confusing textbook, an uninspiring teacher, and my own self-doubt. Instead of loving science and math, I began to be intimidated by those subjects. While once they stimulated my imagination, they now became associated with disappointing test results, pressure to perform well, and personal insecurity.

Despite all this, I slowly decided not to give up on science and math. My junior physics class, which I enjoyed far more than chemistry the year before, helped me overcome my mental blocks and realize that my problem was lack of confidence, not lack of ability. An even more important turning point was my...

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