6.16.2009

Going Hysterical (Without a Uterus)

I was the last person out of Chem lab today, and we weren't even doing anything particularly hard. Just a review of unit conversions and significant figures, but I haven't done math like that in almost 4 years (the semester of pre-calc I took my first year doesn't count). I was definitely out of my game, and it showed: with all those numbers swimming around, it took me twice as long as everyone else to work through a problem. Plus, I can never remember what's significant and what's not.

Chemistry is the first in a set of requisites I need for nursing school, a course I'm taking mostly for my mother's peace of mind, and as an absolute Plan B after graduation. Although a backup plan is practical, it also feels like a dead weight on my shoulders. It's a pain and burden taking classes for nursing school when I have no real intent of going to nursing school. At best I feel ridiculous, trudging through classes I have no interest in or aptitude for, and all for something that circumstances will have to force me into, kicking and screaming and gritting my teeth.

The word "hysteria" comes from the Latin word for uterus. Historically, the psychological stress and volatile emotions we associate with hysteria have been considered "womanly" afflictions, and thought to be a disorder of that organ. Caroline Casey notes that, throughout much of history, women have not been allowed to define their own lives. This is symbolized most aptly in the Victorian period - when the word "hysteria" came into common use - by the corset, which literally and figuratively squeezed women into a certain shape. No wonder, Casey posits, they went hysterical: they snapped under societal constraints, like fish wriggling to get free of the hook.

I feel like a sell-out taking the nursing track, like I'm not being true to myself. Although the image I have for the future isn't entirely clear, I know the general range of things I want to do, and none of them include administering tetnis shots to infants. (You shouldn't want me working with needles.) After 8 weeks of introductory Chem, I might go hysterical too.

I'm reminded of the popular Langston Hughes poem that asks, "What happens to a dream deferred?...does it explode?"

Afterthought: I realized the irony as I proofread: I'm rejecting nursing school, but my main reference point is rather medical in nature. Hm.

3 comments:

riced said...

I've always appreciated Hughes's "A Dream Deferred." I remember reading it as an intro to A Raisin in the Sun so long ago in HS.

Luuworld said...

hang in there!

Best Fiction said...

Thanks for the encouragement, Luu. It's really getting me down unlike anything else...and it shows in my performance.

Though I was wondering today: am I bad at Chem because I'm bad at Chem, or because I subconsciously want to be bad to prove a point? Hm, hm...

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