Dear Math

I dislike mathematics. I can remember this distinct, intense feeling towards problem-solving, equations, numbers overall as far back as my teenage years. As long as I could add up whatever small amount of money I had in my possession, I was satisfied. I never really thought about the importance of mathematics in everyday life:

Learning math is actually good for the brain, studies have shown that the same regions that help you do math are related to decision-making and various attentional processes. Knowing math, and particularly fractions, can help you tell time. I remember , in the 3rd grade at my elementary school in The Bronx, we had all assembled in the gymnasium for Phys Ed class. My teacher, Mr. Dillon, had asked me to tell him the time that morning. I hesitated because I didn’t know how to tell him that I was confused and somewhat intimidated by the big clock, even the little and big hands had me filled with anxiety. I sat there silent and as tears fell, I vowed that I did not care about math at all. From that very young age, I had formed a decision based out of fear and disappointment. Of course, I wanted to appear “smart” and have the correct answers. Especially, when one of my favorite teachers had called on me. Instead, I built up this “wall’ and felt that as long as I could add, subtract, multiply and divide, basic math, I would be just fine. I’ve read somewhere that to live in a mathematically-driven world and not know math, is like walking through an art museum with your eyes closed. Wow! I closed my eyes and imagined what it would feel like and I started to think that perhaps, I need to try and see math in a different light.

Mathematics is all around us and helps us to understand the world better. Every career uses math in some way and it helps us to have better problem-solving skills. It is a universal language that can also help when it comes to balancing your budget or shop for a good sale. Most often, we find that we dislike certain things because we are not comfortable of our knowledge. Many fears stem from lack of acceptance and understanding. It’s OK to admit that you do not know or understand an idea, statement, and/or question. Saying ” I don’t understand this, could you show me?” is a sign of determination. It shows that you are interested in learning all that you can about a particular topic or subject. It can be difficult to admit a weakness or recognize a need for additional assistance. My college has a Math/Science center and there are virtual tutors available. I find that I have to give a small speech when I meet with everyone individually. I tend to apologize for the level of math that I know and feel like at my age, I should be at an advanced level. Although, it’s great to acknowledge your experience/understanding, try not to be so hard on yourself. It’s never to late to learn anything, especially if you are willing to find individuals that are fair and enjoy the art of teaching. If you dedicate some time, you will find that it gets easier and it may even be fun. Give it a chance. I believe that Mathematics and I can get along, with an emphasis on remaining open to all that it has to offer. There is a quote I like ” Math may not teach us how to add love or minus hate but it gives us every reason to hope that every problem has a solution”


Be yourself. There is no one better.

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