I often cry when I do math. No, seriously. One second the problems seem straightforward and clear and I know exactly which formulas to use. The next, I’m faced with a jumble of numbers which present to me no way out of their trap. I feel inadequate. Slow. Dumb. And I can’t control my tears.
I found a boy just like me (minus the waterworks and a little more 2D) in a YouTube video showing Tim Wilson’s analysis of Plato’s “Allegory of the Cave.” He had fallen apart when he could not find the answer, but then he got back up again. He listened, he learned, and he succeeded.
When we encounter subjects that we feel we should already understand or be able to grasp faster, it is frustrating and disheartening, some may even say painful, to go on the long trek towards understanding that begins with the embarrassing acknowledgement that we have failed in our initial attempt. Still, we set off on the journey, because we are aware of the payoff. The harder something is to learn, the more satisfied and accomplished we feel when we have “mastered” it. Now, the next time we’re faced with the same sort of problem, we will have the ability to solve it and therefore increase our overall confidence.
It’s give and take. We must endure the frustration and unsatisfactory feeling that comes from entering a new realm of study in return for the happiness and pride that couples success. A perfect example of this?
I conquered my math provincial.