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I have test anxiety to an extreme level. I can’t remember a test in the last eight years, no matter how minor (like an art history test on scantron or a completely ungraded diagnostic) that I haven’t literally been sick over. And not a little sick either: like lose five pounds, cry, feel (and occasionally visibly see) my heart racing, sick. Whenever I would tell people about how I felt, they would say “feeling sick before tests is normal”. So I thought it was normal. That I was over exaggerating (like everything in life. I am quite the Pisces after all). This is not normal. At all. And I realized this in the strangest way. I have to give a speech tomorrow. There was a study done, asking peoples greatest fears, and ranked in the number one spot, above dying and heights, was speaking in front of people. I, on the other hand, enjoy it. I was a TA last semester where I had to give a speech every week to a class of 30 uninterested, still eye-rolling because they haven’t quite matured, college freshmen. Speaking in front of people does not phase me. However, right before a speech, as I walk up to the podium and take that last breath before I begin on my talk that absolutely no one in the audience will listen to, I get butterflies. My hands sweat a bit. My stomach may even flip flop a few times. This is a normal level of anxiety. This is what most people feel before tests. This is not what I feel. I need to start thinking of exams as speeches: I’m here to prove what I know. If I don’t know, I’m here to convince people that I do know. If I fail, it’s no big deal, because as soon as I step off that podium, people are already moving onto their next thought, like what’s for dinner or when they get to go home. My stomach should flip flop a few times before a test, like a pancake. It should not tie itself into knots and threaten to strangle me like a funnel cake. I have made it this far. I am an accomplished student graduating in December. I am a well-liked and highly recommended researcher. I have taught people chemistry. I need to think as highly as myself as others do. And maybe, by realizing things like this, I’m on the right path. With that being said, wish me luck on my speech. It’s over a topic I became an expert in in two weeks, and, to be honest, I might be talking loudly and slowly tomorrow to cover the fact that I might still not be quite sure what a dendrimer is and why it’s important. (Protip: it’s hard to make up chemistry on the fly. It’s even harder to pronounce chemical names when they’re 56 letters long and mostly vowels. Even if they’re on the screen right in front of you (that’s looking at you, N-(3-dimethylaminopropyl)-N-ethylcarbodiimide hydrochloride))).

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