Aiming High

I don’t think I’ve ever wanted something so bad in my life that I’m working so hard to try and get it. Not only have I not really wanted something that badly, I had never wanted it for Math!

Yes, you’ve read right. Math…

See, when I was in high school, I was convinced that I was just an idiot who will never be good in Math. I even had teachers who hit that belief home with me by telling me that I was “hopeless”.

Almost 10 years ago, having been so traumatized by my math teachers and the pressure I felt for being a science stream student (in Malaysia it means that in high school, you studied science subjects and advanced math subjects in order to enter college to study engineering, medicine, physics etc), I vowed to myself that I will never EVER do math again in my life. I proceeded to study Linguistics which required no mathematical knowledge and from thence, had nothing to do with math ever again. I thought I’d gotten away scot-free. That indeed, I’ll never have to think about algebra, trigonometry, calculus and the like ever again.

Since I learned that I would be studying “Algebra and Trigonometry 1”, I’ve been drilling myself through Math problems, reading books designed to help people with said subject such as “Algebra 1 For Dummies”, “Homework Helpers – Algebra” and my textbook, working through Khan Academy’s high school level Pre-Algebra, Algebra Basics and Algebra 1 courses, reading various websites and looking up answers and ways to solve problems as well as watching videos on YouTube on Algebra. I’ve done more Algebra in the space of 2 months than I’ve done in the 5 years I was in high school! 

Today, for once in my life, I found out that I’m not “hopeless”, “stupid”, “lazy” and “worthless” as I’ve been told growing up. All those times I was humiliated in front of my classmates when my teachers pulled me out to the front of the class to answer questions but couldn’t and then subsequently punished for it were all bad memories that reinforced the idea that I’m just too stupid to do math. But today, I learned something new. I learned something about myself. It’s not that I’m stupid. It’s just that no one knew how to teach me and it’s something that I needed to learn for myself after 10 years. If I hadn’t, I’d have continued to live and believe the lie that I’m too hopeless to understand math.

If I had continued to listen to people, then I’d never have advanced. I learned that when I put my mind to something, I can learn it. Even if it takes 10 years before I realize it.

So now, I badly want to get an A in “Algebra and Trigonometry 1”. I’ve attended 2 classes so far and I feel like I’m in over my head (remember, I haven’t done math since I left high school 10 years ago). From time to time, I get a dreaded panicky feeling in my gut that tells me that I might be aiming too high. I have moments of self-doubt almost daily every time I try to solve a problem that I’m not familiar with. But I know that if I put my all into it and try my hardest, I won’t be disappointed in myself for trying but failing.

I might fail but failure is not the end all and be all of life. After all, I’m going back to school to try again. I’ll definitely keep everyone updated with my struggle through Math. I sure hope that come May, I’ll have good news that I’ve achieved the A that I’ve been aiming for!


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