Navigating Astrophysics Dreams Amidst Anxiety

It's the night before results day for the Strathclyde STEM Summer School courses. I've known for a week that results would be communicated on Friday 28 July, but as the time has drawn nearer, I have become more and more anxious. 



This is not my first time doing their summer school to get a spot on their physics degree, and I think I'm far more nervous this time around. I think that's mainly because the first time I did it I didn't have as much experience as I do now. Two years ago, I had just applied for the degree on the off chance that I would get an offer. This time, my application was on the back of completing an access course at college, and it feels like there is more riding on the result. The anxiety from this is really starting to take hold, and I can't stop thinking about it.

The Moment of Truth: Summer School Grade's Weight on My Astrophysics Dream

Imposter Syndrome Creeping In: Battling Self-Doubt as a Mature Student

I already know how I did on the mini assessments at the end of each topic, which account for 20% of my overall grade for the mathematics course. The results for these assessments were calculated upon completion of the tests online, and I managed to get 90% of the available marks across all of the assessments. This did put my mind at ease going into the final assessment.



While doing the final exam, however, imposter syndrome started to set in. I worked very hard on each question, carefully reading and analysing them to make sure that I was doing the right thing and getting the right answers. I knew that I had two hours to complete the exam, and I intended to use as much of that time as I could to give myself the best chance of passing. Well, even with taking my time over the questions, I still managed to finish everything within an hour. It was at this point that I started to worry.



It all seemed far too easy. That may sound silly, and I keep telling myself that it is, but in my head, my worry was justified. In previous exams, like my SQA Higher Mathematics exam the year before, I felt that I had done very well, only to end up with a disappointing grade and be put back to square one. What if that was going to happen again with this exam? Had I actually done a good job and gotten the correct answers, or had I made silly mistakes and screwed everything up? 



I double, triple, and quadruple checked every single question and my workings, making sure that I hadn't made any mistakes. I was certain that there was nothing more I could do to improve my work, but my cursor was still hovering over the "submit" button on the page. There were still forty minutes remaining on my time limit for the assessment, and I still couldn't shake the feeling that it was all too easy. Eventually, after some soul searching and internal reasoning, I plucked up the courage to submit my answers. It was done, and there was nothing else I could do but wait for the result.

Cosmic Perspective: Remembering the Bigger Picture

The uncertainty and self-doubt continued to linger for the next week. Although there was nothing more I could do and I was sure I had submitted my best work, I couldn't think about anything else but the result the following week. I kept worrying that I was going to fail, and that everything I had done up to this point would have been for nothing. It's not a nice feeling for me, as I don't like to think of myself being a cynical person, but I couldn't help putting myself down. 



It was tough, given that my head was so full of negativity and I kept coming up with scenarios in my head that involved me failing the summer school, but I decided that I would try to take my mind off it all. Funnily enough, it was around this time that I had the idea to start this blog. When I started working on the project and started writing about my experiences, I found that everything was slowly being put into perspective. I started to remember the bigger picture, and realised that everything I had accomplished so far was something to be proud of, regardless of the outcome of this one assessment. I remembered that I had come leaps and bounds over the last couple of years, and I'm not the same person I was the last time I took this course. My skills and abilities had improved drastically, and I realised this should instil confidence. 



I was still on track for reaching my goals and living my dream. I thought deeply about it all, and realised that my grade for this assessment should not matter in the grand scheme of things. I had already come through failures on this journey and I kept moving through every single one of them. I didn't let them get in the way of my dreams, and I knew that I should keep doing the same with whatever came my way from this point on. I should have more faith in my abilities and and believe that I've passed this time around. But if for any reason it turned out that I failed, I shouldn't let that get in my way.

Invaluable Support System: Friends and Family Who Lift Me Up

Through all of this, I had incredible support from my friends and family. It's only right that I shout this out, as I wouldn't be on this journey without their encouragement. Countless times, they have lifted me up and reminded me that I can do this if I put my mind to it. Their unwavering faith in me and their love and care is absolutely priceless, and I am tremendously grateful for it all.



Thank you to each and every one of my friends, my mum, my dad, and to anybody who has guided me along the way, like my maths lecturer, physics lecturer, and even the YouTube creators who provided me with handy maths tips and tricks. All of you have combined to be the best support network that I could ever have asked for, and I would be remisced if I ever took any of it for granted.

The Power of Patience: Embracing the Wait for My Fate

The wait is almost over, and I just have one more sleep until I not only find out my grade, but also my fate. If I get the required 70% grade, I will be on my way to university to study physics and one step further towards my goal of becoming an astrophysicist. Although I'm very nervous and worried that I may have failed, I'm still incredibly excited and can't wait to see how I've done.



Thanks for reading and joining me on this wondrous journey. Putting my feelings into words and expressing myself has definitely helped to relax me and I feel that I can put my worries behind me as I wait for my results. With that being said, a nice, cold pint and a pub quiz are beckoning me, and I will of course be obliging. 



Love and peace, everybody, and keep looking up!

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