I’m not sure if I could find a word to describe myself better.  I’m stubborn; I don’t like to admit I’m wrong, I hate admitting I don’t know how to do something, and I loathe asking for help.

This has always been a problem for me.  I would rather blunder around, waste time, do something wrong multiple times, and eventually figure it out myself than ask for help. This summer, I spent around two weeks on a simple project that should have taken me a few days because I kept doing it wrong, starting over, and I absolutely refused to ask for help.

To some (probably most) students, going to office hours is as simple as: “Hey, I don’t understand this question, here’s how I tried to solve it, I got the wrong answer.  What am I supposed to be doing?”

This is how office hours usually go for me:
What I imagine: “Hello Dr _____, I’m having some trouble with number three on the homework.  I started out using these equations to find these variables, like you showed us in class, but I’m getting stuck on this step.  Can you explain it to me?”

What actually happens: “Umm, I didn’t get question three… here are numbers… can you show me how to math?” 

What’s going on in my head:
“I don’t know what I’m doing, I actually need to ask him about 3 more problems, and I should probably understand this by now.  Take notes or you’ll never remember this! Ah! He’s looking at me, he’s asking me if I get it.  Noooopppee.  I understand that equation… wait, that was given in the problem. You’re probably thinking that I’m too stupid for your class and wondering why I’m a physics major.  Oh god, I’m so embarrassed.  I’m probably super red now. Crap, my face is definitely red.  Think of something else.  Ohh, his office has a nice view of the quad.  Nope, still red. STOP THINKING ABOUT IT. Hide your face behind your hair.  How does your hair look?  Stop! You’re supposed to be paying attention.  Crap, what was he talking about? Where did he get those numbers? Get all of this in your notes! I’ve never seen that equation before…  WHAT IS THIS WITCHCRAFT?!?!?!”

Professors hold office hours so they can help us.  They understand that some students won’t understand things the first time they’re explained in class.  I am one of those students.  If I keep this up, I’m only hurting myself.  If I continue with my stubbornness, I will only fall farther and farther behind in my classes, I will continue to spend 4 hours on a single homework problem only to give up and settle for most of the work and the wrong answer.

It’s time for a change.  Tomorrow I go to office hours.


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