When everything goes wrong
So today I had my second day of an organic lab I have to do as part of one of my core modules for third year. From the moment I walked in, everything just seemed to go extremely wrong.
At first, I removed my compound I spent the entire of yesterday making. I left it for a fraction of a second whilst I went to grab another beaker and the beaker the solvent was in collapsed along with all my product. I was quick enough to try and retain the most of it, however a lot of it just wanted to stay in the fume hood itself – outside of my beaker. From this moment, I felt extremely anxious and shaken up. I had a professor that was helping me clean my mess up, but my nerves got the better of me. I forgot everything I had to do after that and my confidence went right down. All I wanted to do is get out of those labs and cry, but I couldn’t really do that when I had smashed glassware and didn’t leave my compound safely.
I think the fact that I was so shaken up by this incident, everything after just also went completely wrong. I forgot the basics that come around the lab as to where to find chemicals and equipment and I personally felt really behind in terms of my experimental method.
Things I did do well is be patient. I knew I had wasted pretty much 15% of my compound and hence when it came to things like filtration and separation, I did these things more than just once as I wanted to retain as much of the product I had left. My goal was to finish on the same note as everyone else did, so I stayed a little longer.
When something goes wrong, it can be extremely daunting, however the people around you are there to help. Ask the professors, demonstrators or even your classmates if you have to. You may get a grumpy response if you ask them for more than just once or twice, but it’s better to be sure on doing things right than carry on unknowingly and getting it wrong. The moral of this story – don’t give up and give it your best go! This does not only apply to a bad lab experience, but can relate to so many other things that go on around campus like your lectures.
If you have any bad experiences you’d like to share, please do get in touch! Remember it’s about what you make out of them. A bad day can be turned more positive by taking rational and well-thought through decisions.