Difficult is Doable [Ask the Sherpa]

6 Nov

Sherpa, the sherpa

A student asks:

Dear Sherpa,

I’m in a really tough science class right now.  It’s so hard, I’m actually getting a bad grade!  That is to say, it’s not an A.  Here’s the problem: I have to take the second half of the class next semester, too!  It’s a requirement of the program, so I can’t just bail on it if I don’t want to get kicked out.  I’m freaking out. I don’t think I can do it.  What should I do?


Avogadro’s Blunder

Dear Avi,

You don’t need to worry.  You can definitely do it, and you’ll be fine.  I know because you were selected to be in the program.  They picked you for a reason, and if you couldn’t do it, then you wouldn’t be there.  That doesn’t mean it will be easy, but things worth doing very rarely are easy.

Your concern reminds me of a time where I had a similar crisis of confidence.  I had what was technically a major science project assigned to me by a very powerful person.  What’s worse, no one had ever done anything like it before, it felt like everyone in the world would be watching, and there was no room for error.  I was terrified.  I was so scared that I wouldn’t be able to pull it off, that the anxiety of failure was preventing me from success.  That’s when I thought to myself, “Sherpa, Kennedy picked you for a reason.  If he thinks you’re good enough, then you’re good enough.”  I bucked up, put in the hours, and did the hard work. And nearly a half-century later, people still think we landed on the moon. I pulled it off.

So stop fretting — it won’t help.  Don’t confuse difficult with impossible, and remember that you were quite literally chosen to do this.

In Peace,

Sherpa, the sherpa


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