I always thought I was good at math.
I was good at basic math, in elementary school, and past that I’m not great at remembering formulas, rules or shortcuts. As a college student I have been exemplary, in every subject and at every point in my academic career.
Except for algebra.
I have to see it worked out five or six times before I can do it myself, and I still don’t understand it when I can do it.
I’m not unique in this shortcoming, many people struggle with math. Many smart and talented people are completely unable to learn the language of mathematics,
(And I promise there’s a point here, I’m just taking the long way to get there)
I’m not good at not being good at things.
I’m a poor loser and an arrogant student. I have trouble asking for help and I feel intense shame when I get low marks or (gasp) fail a class. I have a competitive side and that part of me is a real prick.
I want to be a better man, a better writer, a better friend and husband and father and nowhere in that desire does quadratic equation help me, I can’t apply Pythagorean theorem to measure the sides of this triangle, where my love and my hate form the straights and my madness is the long, slanted hypotenuse and it’s all I can do to understand those terms myself, much less apply them in real time.
I don’t like math, I don’t like the way it feels so slippery in my mind. It’s like trying to understand other people’s emotions or make them, make you, understand mine.
But I try.
I don’t understand, but I’m trying. I hope that I can pass this course, I hope that I can figure this out, before I graduate, or flunk out.