The classroom was filled with students intensely working on problems. Writing, erasing, calculating, students struggled to find the answers. Each tall, black lab table had three or four teenagers working on a few problems. We had two full class periods to finish three physics problems. The first period had already ended and my group was still on the first problem. We kept changing our minds about which conditions mattered more in the problem. Did the car stop before the line or at the line? Does that matter more, or does how long the car took to stop matter more? Seeing our time slip away, we decided to split up into groups, two people continued the first problem and the other two would go onto the next problem. I was becoming frustrated and defeated with the first problem, so I went on to the second problem. My partner and I finished the problem with relative ease. Still, my group did not much have time left. I looked over my shoulder to look at how far another group was. That group I considered the “smart” table. Makes sense considering how two of the students were in Calculus three and the other two were also relatively smart. I saw they had already finished the packet and were working on the homework. An uncomfortable feeling rose up in my stomach. I turned back to my table and intensely started working on problem three. No matter how many different things I tried, no matter how many times I checked my work, I could not get the right answer. Despair started to take over my mind. What once started off as a nice challenge, turned into mind-wrecking predicament. I was also in Calculus three and did well in physics last year, so why couldn’t I get the right answer? And why am I taking such a long time to figure out the answer? I should be as smart as they are, but I’m not. I need to be smarter; I need to be on their level. I’m almost there, but I’m not. I should be on their level, but I’m not. I’m not good enough. I need to be better. How can I get anywhere in life if I can’t be at the top? Sure, I can get places, but not anywhere I’ll be satisfied with myself. By this point, I’ve just given up on the problem while my group members have taken over. With nothing else to do, I sit on the ground, filled with hopelessness and despair.

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