I’m Not Good at Math

I'm Not Good at Math
My whole life I told myself: “I’m not good at math.”

English was fun because even though learning grammar was a drag, I got to write stories and there was some sort of interesting thread of language that I enjoyed.

History was fascinating because again, it was stories. People be crazy in ancient times!! I would have so much fun digging into the history of fashion and foods from other lands – loved it.

Science was cool because we did experiments. I could touch it and see it – smoke coming from a beaker, the wings of a butterfly. Learning how the human body worked was mind-blowing!

But math.
Math was cold.
White paper + black numbers.

Nothing about math held my interest. Even when math tried to be fun and have a story with it’s word problems, I couldn’t connect to it. I even tried to give each number a personality. Number 1 was the mother and number 2 was the father. Number 3 was the baby and number 4 was the big sister. Still, my mind just couldn’t focus and I started to tell myself: “I’m not good at math.”

Fast forward to the very end of my associates degree – I had only one math class that was required for this degree and I pushed it off ALL the way to the end. Only by this time, I was also working full time. Morning classes were out and night classes were limited – so I signed up for a class in a campus near to my job but far from my home.

My job ended at 5pm and the class didn’t start until 7pm. I went straight there from work and because I had nothing to do from 5pm to 7pm I made it my habit to go up to the math lab and just work on problems until class started.

My professor was this tiny blond Russian lady who liked to wear the brightest red lipstick. I can still hear her thick accent as she tried to explain slope and variables. I felt pretty lost most of the class, and not until the very end would things finally start to click and make sense. I would often need the tutors in the math lab to help me through the problems, but every week on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 5:15pm – 6:45pm I would work on those problems.

Something incredible happened after my first exam.

The paper got handed back to me and there at the top in red ink, a PERFECT score.

What!? Me?! I’m terrible at math!

Well, it turns out, I’m not. I’m just terrible at hard work. When things aren’t interesting, when I can’t connect to a story or a fun hands on experiment, I am not good at forcing my mind to just do the hard work.

Not until I was forced to just do the work in a freezing cold math lab and just practice and practice and focus and WORK did I find that I was totally capable of understanding and succeeding in math class.

I ended the class with a near perfect score in all of my exams and got to skip the final because my scores were so high.

Me, the girl who barely passed every high school math class – being the top student in a college level algebra class???

I learned a lot more than equations and formulas in that class. I learned that I make excuses for myself when the reality is I just straight up don’t want to do something. I learned that I am capable of more than I realize. I learned that hard work – even though I never want to do it – is actually rewarding and exhilarating.

I plan to blog fully about my experience last weekend at Summit, but if there’s one thing I learned there, it’s that success is available to everyone, but it’s built by doing one boring small action after another and working HARD and not giving up and believing that it’s not the talented who succeed but those who put in the work even when they’ve thought all their life that they just aren’t good at math.

I feel like I’ve been given permission to be great at whatever I want! As long as I’m willing to put in the work and be consistent with it – I’m not going to listen to that old story anymore.

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