Why I’m up at 3:30a.m. taking an Algebra class…

Math equation dice d6
How my brain sees math (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s coming up on a year since I joined the Expedition Self team. I can honestly say, I’m not the same person I was when I began doing the growth work.

I have learned a shit-ton about myself in that time (some good, some not so good). I’m learning how to be vulnerable (still difficult, but I’m doing it), I’ve cried more in these past months than I have in my entire life, and I’m learning to face my fears, take risks, and rewrite old tapes that have played in my head since I was a kid.

One of those tapes involves math. I won’t pretend — math and I are not the best of friends. I excelled in every subject except math. Growing up, I heard the constant din (from a parent) of “you’re dumb (or stupid),” “you’re lazy,” “you’re not applying yourself,” etc. Those words eventually became my truth. It was my truth when I was a kid, and it helped create one of the biggest regrets in my life as an adult.

I never completed college and one of the main reasons was math. There were other reasons that I didn’t finish, but I was terrified of the math that was required. I just “knew” I would be screwed. What an excuse, eh? And that’s all it was, an excuse that I gave every single time I thought about returning.

Well, I’ve returned to school and I’m taking the College Algebra class that I avoided years ago. I can’t graduate without it. But things are different now. Of course I’m not dumb, stupid, or anything like that. Like many people, I learn math differently, and that’s ok. There are ways to work with how each of us learn a subject. Now I know what works for me and doesn’t. If we had known this back in the day, perhaps things would have turned out differently. Or maybe not. There’s really no telling, and honestly, it doesn’t matter anymore.

One of the awesome things about my school are a myriad of resources available to me to help me pass any class. For this class, in addition to the regular course work, I have the bootcamp (which my academic mentor insisted I take), there are math labs, math tutors available at any time, for free, and of course, my course mentors. They are setting us up to succeed and giving us the tools to do so.

So, for sixteen (16) days, I’m in an Algebra bootcamp. Twice a week, the class is in the evening, and twice a week it’s at 4a.m. The purpose is to get us thoroughly comfortable and ready to pass the final. And I will pass.

Am I a dedicated student? I don’t think so. For me, It’s about facing my fear of math, taking a risk, and seeing what’s on the other side. I see it as being determined to pass this course, and if getting up at “O dark thirty” helps, who am I to complain?

Will passing this class change my relationship with math? Probably not, and that’s ok. I don’t need to be best buddies with math. I’m happy to be an acquaintance and move on. I missed out on many things when I was a kid due to my lack of math abilities, and I turned down opportunities as an adult because I was afraid that I would fail. It’s time to move past all that.

When I do pass, I will have rewritten a part of my life that I have looked back on with a lot of fear, anger, and regret. I’m not sure which moment will give me the greatest joy, but you know I’ll be doing the “happy dance,” when I’m done.


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