Love Letter to Science
…and other ramblings on the matter.
A lot of people fall in love in their lives. Fewer people stay in love in their lives. Even less die in love. Mine is not the most normal of love stories. It’s not about two homosapiens, the wing-man is actually decent, and one of the love interests can’t talk. Basically, it’s The Little Mermaid.
I have been lucky enough to fall in love with Science.
Now I sound crazy. Half of you probably just tuned out or labelled me as a nerd. Please though, hear me out. It’s amazing to love something. It’s wonderful to find something you feel so passionate about that you can’t bear the thought of NOT spending the rest of your life with it. It’s exciting to always want to know why and how and what. Maybe it boils down to the fact that I am fascinated by a leaf. Maybe it boils over to the fact that I am fascinated by the world.
Every fairy tale starts with some context.
It all began back in the second grade. The first step in any relationship is a basic introduction. Typically, most seven-year-olds do not look at each other and start planning their weddings. They just say “Hi Want To Be Friends?!” I did not walk into science class and decide to be a biologist. I walked into science class because my schedule told me to. It was that simple. I had an entertaining year. We raised meal worms and it was fun. I named my two worms Doodle and something I can’t even remember. Doodle ate Other One. We held a funeral. Then we grew some grass and onions. It was just another class.
In middle school, I started to appreciate science a little more as an individual, not just another face in the crowd. I enjoyed learning about DNA and volcanoes and dinosaurs. I was incredibly fortunate to have teachers who gave me the attention and support I needed to become true friends with science. They answered my existing questions and prompted new ones. They built me into a bold and inquisitive student, which prepared me for the following years. Once high school started, my fondness for science was magnified by a tenfold.
Like most relationships, our’s went through, and has yet to go through several stages.
The movie cliché. The blushy, wide grins. The butterflies are awake, and they are not fluttering. They are doing some extravagant dives. These characteristics make up the The Romance Stage.
The Romance Stage can also be referred to as the Lovey Dovey Phase, the Lovey Druggie Phase, and the Disney Phase. When you fall in love, your brain releases a cocktail of chemicals designed to set your heart thumping. Basically, you are high on love. This is the phase that the majority of romance movies focus upon. From Cinderella to Titanic, entertainment industries have made fortunes off swoon worthy love stories. While there is yet to be a movie centered around the lusty affair of a science student and her lab notebook, that relationship has many parallels to those of Sleeping Beauty or Allie Hamilton.
The Romance Stage of my relationship with science began as a ninth grader. I was young. I was impressionable. I couldn’t even find my locker. I was being forced to take a class that I wasn’t really sure I was interested in. However, my teacher was an amazingly talented wing-man, and he soon introduced me to his friend. His friend was named Science, and like he predicted, we hit it off right away. I had known other sciences, but none were quite like this. They were not as exciting or funny or interesting. When you are getting to know new people, they primarily show you the best sides of them. Science showed me its Biology side. I learned all about plants and cells, and I felt like I could relate to what I was learning. It blew my mind that everything I was being shown on a power point was happening at that moment in my body. Science managed to thrill and surprise me every day. The fact that my relationship was with knowledge and not another homosapien did not deter my romantic gestures. I baked a cake for the class, made a movie about it, and even wrote a book. I scribbled descriptions furiously in my notebook, although details about hair and eye color were typically in the form of Punnett Squares. Everything I saw seemed incredible and new. I was inspired and excited, and head over heels to go somewhere with that class. I just seemed to get Biology, and Biology got me.
The resentful glares. The fights over who’s parents you spend Thanksgiving with. The “It’s not you, it’s me” talks. Stage Two is referred to as The Power Struggle Stage.
It can happen overnight. Your brain stops producing the chemicals that once drugged you into a pink, glazed stupor. Your feelings of content and homogeneity fall away and your differences are left standing naked and embarrassed. Confusion and anger are common emotions during this trying time, as it can be hard to understand how you did not notice the differences, as well as find where the similarities have seemingly disappeared to. Many couples have a hard time working past this phase, and therefore breakups and divorces tend to happen at this crossroad.
I entered the Power Struggle Phase not overnight, but instead over the course of a summer. After a successful freshman year, I waved goodbye to Biology for the summer, our relationship floating on blown kisses and “see you next year”s. I spent the summer fondly remembering fun days in class and putting all thoughts of the upcoming year immediately out of my head. When school started again, I was resentful and dismal, already fretting about the looming homework assignments. However, I hoped that I would at least be able to enjoy my time in the science classroom. My brother had assured me that Chemistry was pretty fun, and so who was I to be wary? Moral of the story: You and your brother probably have different types.
Science had changed. Science was not fun and relatable. Science just wanted to do math all the time. My wonderful, green Biology had disappeared and been replaced by dull, grey Chemistry. Chemistry who drew lines and used numbers to describe bonds, but never actually wanted to talk about bonding. Chemistry who gave the chemical equations for oxidation, but could not see our relationship rusting at the core. As I sat in that classroom day after day, I was distraught to see something I used to love and understand drifting farther away with each equation drawn on the board. Luckily, my teacher sprung to the rescue and did her best to counsel our relationship, and as the year went on, I became flatly resigned. With her help, I was able to accept my old friend’s new self. I did not like it, and I was saddened by our incompatibility. But I understood why they had changed.
Old fights seem funny and insignificant. Especially the one about their ugly pants. Together is good, but so is apart. The thrill is back, but it is a slow burn as opposed to a short lived firework. If a couple is strong enough to conquer the second stage, they will likely find themselves enveloped by the peaceful joy of The Stability Stage.
After the horrors and temper tantrums of Stage Two, Stage Three is like a breath of fresh air. The excitement has returned, as has the affection, but these feelings reach deeper than the puppy love of The Romantic Phase. Compromise is introduced at this point in a relationship, and you learn to both accept and appreciate you and your partner’s differences. Clear boundaries are established and respected. Needs and wants are acknowledged. Ribs are an acceptable date meal.
I am fortunate enough to have survived the awkward passive aggression of last year and have been reunited with my beloved Biology. However, this course is much more extensive and rigorous than the shallow excitement of freshman year Bio. I am able to see and understand how both Chemistry and Biology intertwine and connect, and am thankful for my experience with both. My past two years of commitment are paying off. I am in love with Science once again, and plan to stick with it. I know that there will be hard labs, bad test grades, and that Organic Chemistry is going to be hell. However, I feel prepared and excited to continue my adventures with Science by my side.
Rings and veils and houses and shared bank accounts. No more needing, all wanting. Sara Bareilles’ song “I Choose You”. Yeah, she’s got it. This acceptance of yourself and invitation of another is referred to as The Commitment Stage.
The Commitment Stage is all about knowledge. It is about knowing yourself, and your own assets and shortcomings. It’s about knowing your partner’s. It’s about knowing the highs and lows of your relationship. Finally, it’s about knowing all of those things and knowing you can handle them. You should be able to want your partner, not need them. Once these things have been accomplished, you two lovebirds can start experiencing a balance of fun, responsibility, power, and freedom. Basically, you have mastered the art of multitasking. Go have fun parasailing and paying taxes. At the same time.
Since Science and I can’t actually get married in the state of Minnesota, and our conversations are not the most conventional, it is difficult to pinpoint this exact phase in our relationship. I think that for us, this stage happened around the same time as The Stability Stage. I got to choose my class, and I chose Biology. Not only did I choose Bio, but I chose a two year long course, that covers both my junior and senior year. So we are stuck together, and I could not be happier with my decision. I showed up at Science’s door with some luggage and moved right into the apartment. My shoes are on the couch, my shampoo in the bathroom, and the books have all been doggy-earred.
Babies, businesses, and beyond! The Co-Creation Stage is the final stage of the relationship cycle.
At stage five, the time has come to get your heads out of your asses and start benefiting the world. Many couples choose to take on communal “projects” of sorts, such as raising a family, or starting a business. You are a team. The community reaps the benefits of your trophies.
I am predicting that this train will hit the station as soon as college rounds the corner. College is where you choose what you want to be, do, and see in your life. While many questions surrounding college are met by grim smiles and faintly panicked glances, I am pretty sure there is a place for me and science in the world. I look forward to a future in which my closet consists of many lab coats and the only paper I buy is graph lined.
That concludes our love story. It’s a weird one, I’ll be the first to admit that. However, I think it is a really beautiful one. News flash: Love isn’t just for Justin Bieber and that random hottie you sneakily stare at during church. Even as a grumpy teenager, it is possible to love school. It is possible to love biology and leaves. It is even possible to love dicot stems. My experience with Science has made me a curious, confident young woman, both in and out of the classroom. Whether or not I end up a biologist or botanist or surgeon or something completely unrelated to Science, I know that at least the adjectives “confident” and “curious” will always surround my name. I can’t be certain where this relationship is headed; that’s part of the excitement of it. However, I do know that whether or not we spend our lives together, Science will always have a special place in my life as one of my most beloved friends.
“Education is the most powerful weapon we can use to change the world.”
Thank you to all of my science teachers, especially Mr. Koszewski. He was the wing-man.
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