I believe in the unknown. I believe in the comfort of infinite answers. I’ve known this since seventh grade.
I was fourteen years old sitting in a desk when I decided exactly what I did not want to do with my life: algebra. It was a language I could not understand. What is an irrational number? Does it make quick decisions? And what is a log, for the hundredth time what does it do? It’s not that I didn’t understand the power and practicality of math and all the millions of ways we will use it in everyday life, I just didn’t see how finite rules and structure could help answer the questions that seemed so prominent in my mind. To me, math represented the false ideal that with one mistake you failed completely. There is no recovery in math. There are no re-dos or chances to make up for mistakes, just opportunities to take algebra again next fall. One day, I began searching for different answers.
In the back, left corner of the classroom I began a journal. I scribbled sentences about what I’d done that day, or how I felt about my current life. I could solve these problems myself, with the outcomes undefined. Within each entry lay a small conflict, a situation in which I felt confused. Some of my earliest questions pondered if time was real, if I had complete control of my destiny, and the role colors play in our everyday lives.
As a nineteen-year-old still in a desperate scramble for answers I continue to write in this journal. I assist the discovery of my beliefs. I play devil’s advocate, weigh options, and listen to myself. Whichever conclusion I land upon, whether positive or negative or completely unchanged, I am right. Any movement or shift of my opinions is satisfying.
I believe in the act of writing your emotions and feelings privately. I believe in giving yourself a voice that no one else can hear. I believe in these private, intimate conversations from which maturity and understanding can develop. I believe in the value of this unique process of problem solving and the accomplishment that can result from it. It is through these discussions with myself that I gain proper footing in the very real problems of my ever-changing world. I believe in the infinite paths the unknown reveals to us and the insurmountable success we divulge when we don’t limit our domains.
On February 17th, 2005 I wrote the following: “Am I wasting my potential? I’m not letting myself really get into math. Tomorrow I will move my seat to the front… It will be an experiment… you’ve helped.” That year I got a B- in algebra. I decided to take a remedial course over the summer in order to qualify myself for advancement the next year. By pushing myself into my problems, I learned the importance and power of diving head first into the unknown and I have forever been changed by it.