When I was afraid of heights, I decided to jump out of an airplane. I felt that if I could gather the strength and courage to throw my body 13,000 feet out of a perfectly good airplane, I could conquer anything including death itself.
Now, it’s time to find out if that’s true.
My greatest fear has been failure, and right now I’m standing at the threshold of a science degree and break out into a cold sweat at the mere whisper of “math”, my one academic nemesis. That’s okay though, I have a $120 graphing calculator that’s supposed to help. Right? I mean, for that kind of money it should not only get me an A+ it should raise my future children, figure out why birds are dropping from the sky, and help me survive the apocalypse. Surely it can help me graph a piecewise- defined function.
But, will I ever really need to graph a piecewise-defined function??
As I’m sitting in class waiting for the instructor to answer this question, I think about how I am the oldest person in my Algebra class. No, I take that back. I’m the oldest woman. There are a couple of men with wedding rings who finish ahead of me on that one. My thoughts turn to writing and photography. Maybe my career was supposed to be a photography? or photojournalism? I can rule out Matriarch because the idea of bearing children makes my uterus scream.
An epiphany snaps me back into the moment, and I realize my problem isn’t fear. I already conquered that – I’m in the class. I enrolled in college and I picked something I knew was difficult and I’M DOING IT.
No, fear isn’t in the equation, it’s my lack of focus when I’m disinterested in a topic. My wandering mind is why I fail to understand sometimes. In the moments I thought I was paying attention I was really thinking about how I hated what the instructor was talking about. I was thinking about poor, old Mr. Schuler from 8th grade math and how we tormented him about the growths of unknown etiology protruding from his neck. Whoa. What was that whole absolute value thing and why did that graph just shift two units to the right?
No, fear is not my greatest impedance. It’s my wandering mind. If I could learn to focus, I really could conquer anything. When I’m taking pictures, or writing, I enter this zone of focus where time and space are irrelevant – where my frost-bitten fingers could turn black I’m concentrating so hard on the task at hand. Of course I consider photography fun…and math not so much…
The first and greatest victory is to conquer yourself; to be conquered by yourself is of all things most shameful and vile. ~Plato