This I Believe

Roxie - Memphis, Tennessee
Entered on March 1, 2007
Age Group: 50 - 65

I believe that anybody, and I mean anybody, can learn to work math problems. I say this with authority for I am living proof that even a 59 year old grandmother can actually ace a math final. Yes, it is true! But it wasn’t easy. Actually, it was horrible for in the weeks of preparation I had stressed myself out so badly that I had usurped all of my body’s supply of endorphins (those feel good chemicals our brains produce to help us with stressful events) and which fortunately can be found in chocolate. I discovered this after I left my final exam and headed into a convenient store and found myself stopping dead still in my tracks and salivating as I spied the vast array of chocolate bars. Forgetting what I had originally intended to buy, I knew only that chocolate was what I craved and so I bought five huge bars and was tearing into the wrapping with my teeth before I could get out of the store. It wasn’t until several bars later and a few pounds heavier, that I learned I had needed that chocolate for the weeks of worrying and cramming which had taken a toll on my hearty constitution.

I might add that I don’t consider myself stupid but I do come from a long line of mathematical dummies with the favorite story in our family of how my grand father (not a whiz in math either) was trying to help his younger brother Judd by doing his homework for him. Finally at the end of Judd’s tablet the remaining problem was so simple that my grandfather must have thought, “even a cave man could do it,” (no offense taken Neanderthal man) for next to the unanswered problem, he deliberately wrote, “Do this one your self, stupid.” The teacher failed them both.

So how does one mathematically challenged individual tackle numbers, and come from test scores of 20s and 30s to getting an A on the final? I got help. I found a good tutor, and most importantly, I never gave up, even though my family will tell you, “When Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.” It was not easy sledding for my loved ones during that time. However, all of us survived and I believe anyone else can too.

I may have a brain that feels likes oatmeal mush when trying to make sense of Venn diagrams, but I know that my intelligence and self worth is not dependent upon my ability to understand math. It’s not even dependent upon solving those tricky reading problems. I am still a much needed and important being in the universe, with or without the math skills.

Actually, I learned that the most important factor in solving any math equation is determination for I had to say to myself, sometimes a hundred times a day, “I will not be overcome by numbers!” Having finally completed the math requirements for graduation, I’m glad I now have that experience behind me. Was it worth it? Would I do it again? You bet! But not without the chocolate!