What’s my Function?

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

12 thoughts on “What’s my Function?

    1. I’ve been a project manager for the past five years or so after working my way up the ladder. My interest in science is medical – specifically neuroscience and behavior. For as long as I can remember, I’ve always been curious “why” people do things – but more so than most people I think. It’s endlessly fascinating. I think I’m already getting the hang of the math! It’s not nearly as painful as it was last week. I’m actually seeing the patterns, and that makes it more like art (or even a game) which translates to a certain amount of fun. 🙂

  1. Not that I have any doubt you can’t do math. But, think about it… if you are struggling with it right now, can you picture yourself wanting to do it for a living? Besides, creative minds are not programed to do math. And you are very creative and talented. 🙂

    1. Thanks, Emily. 🙂

      I think I’m willing to put up with it and figure it out because (unfortunately!) I need it for the program at Western I really want to get into. I definitely agree that creative minds aren’t necessarily programmed to do math. I have to try a lot harder to “get it” than other things. But, I think if I can wrap my mind around it, it may help me think more critically about other things in life. That’s my theory anyway….ask me how I feel in three months when the class is done. Haha.

    1. Thanks, Cassie…I think math is for special types of people for sure. I keep thinking that figuring it out will help me in other areas of life though, so I’m willing to stick it out.

  2. I have had similar problems with focus. Maybe there are ways to link what you need to study to your passions? Like maybe take some photographs of natural and artificial objects, figure out some of the math around why they are structured a certain way, then write about it. Something like that. Like a bridge – lots of math in their design.

    1. I like that idea, Mike…I was thinking about it earlier when I first read your comment and it actually helped me reflect on the assignment. So, I think you’re on to something! 🙂

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