Everyone’s thought process is unique; it’s one of the supremely glorious things about our species. Rare is the “Cool! Same brain!” moment when responses align exactly.
Take the word, “solution.” It has different meanings, so without context using it in a sentence might be a good test for how a person thinks. Give it a try.
My sentence comes with a heavy dose of learned frustration: “Please don’t ask me for a solution, math is my nemesis.”
Maybe “nemesis” is too harsh., the love/hate of “frenemy” is more accurate: I hate to do it, but love what it does.
If there is a letter involved, I’m all over it. My mind dances awake when I tell it to write or read something and when I turn experiences into words? It’s sort of a contact high.
But give me numbers and my brain seizes like a metal spoon stuck in a mixer beater. Can’t. Move. The periphery of my brain gets thick with mist and I suddenly feel like the most stupid person on the planet, nay — the universe.
This is hard to admit because I grew up in the age of pink and blue: Math and science were boy subjects, literature and art were for girls. However I also grew up as the second wave of feminism was beginning to soak society and gender stereotypes were starting to blur into a beautiful purple. It stings to take personal responsibility for it but I know better than to blame my gender for a lack of mathability.
I know A LOT of mathy females, but every attempt to join their ranks feels like when my 5-foot-2-inch frame tries to get the box of cereal pushed back on a top shelf of the grocery store. I can see what I want but am incapable of achieving it without some sort of assistance.
At the grocery store that usually means standing on a lower shelf and hoping the move is recorded so management feels bad about a middle-aged woman having to climb for her Great Grains. And I would be lying if I didn’t say that with math (and cereal fetching) my most desired method is that someone does it for me.
“Thank you for figuring out my portion of the dinner tab and the tip,” yields more accurate results than doing it myself.
But I love what math does! I love to compare stats of things, love to half or double recipes, love to not look like an idiot when the bill comes. So I reach for one of the many calculators I have around on my phone or computer, in the top drawer of the white cabinet in my kitchen, and in the case of cooking measurements, the paper guides I have taped inside the spice cabinet.
Without them I do things like tip $20 on a $60 hair stylist charge, get excited about a 75 percent increase in personal revenue when it was really only 20 percent, or asking for a corrected rental contract when, in fact, it was right in the first place.
Yes, I have.
That said, I believe that saying I am not good at math is a choice I’ve turned into a deeply rooted obstacle. Perhaps there is some natural ability involved but it wasn’t as easy to me as other school subjects so I closed my brain to it and carried the bias through life.
Thankfully we are all gloriously unique in not only our thought processes but also in our experiences and abilities. Why are you mathy? Why are you not?
Only you have that solution.