I Avoid Math At All Costs, Numbers Just Take Up Brain Space & Ruin Lives
When I was in the second grade, I loved math. Actually, I had just learned how much I loved winning, via timed multiplication tests. I wanted to be the best and the ability to take memorization tests faster than my classmates allowed me to showboat my dominance.
Yup, there wasn't a pride issue there or anything.
Needless to say, for that school year, math was my bread and butter, even when division timed tests came into the picture. I continued this trend of math-enthusiasm into third grade.
It all came to a grinding halt in fourth grade, when long division entered my life and I realized that I couldn't keep math to simple memorization tests. That's when my days as a STEM geek faded and my obvious humanities persona shined through.
Since that fateful day in fourth grade, I've been a humanities gal. Give me book reports, AP European History tests, and the ability to critique a piece of art from the Renaissance era and I will be happy as a clam. Just don't bring out the numbers.
Please, for the love of my mental sanity and cherry pie, don't bring out the numbers.
Majoring in Communications, I made the very strategic decision to avoid numbers, aside from the mandatory math class that I couldn't test out of. Yet even with this very clear split in the type of academia I was involved in, numbers have continued to sneak into my life and wreak havoc on my brain.
Grade point averages.
How much rent I owe that month.
What the scale is screaming up at me.
How quickly I ran that mile.
Metrics that I'm not meeting or not beating enough.
The list goes on. No matter how you slice it, numbers are a part of life. They always have been, even before my multiplication table fascination came and went. But the reality of the situation is, numbers, no matter how much we need them to live our lives and make society go round, are arbitrary.
OK, not arbitrary, my landlord does expect a certain sum to land in his mailbox each month.
But what I'm saying is that we, as a general group of human beings, put so much pressure on numbers. Look at all the girls who struggle with what pant size they are or if they weigh the "right" number. The students who can only think about the number they'll receive to either put them over the top or cause them to lose their scholarship. The employee who stays late into the night for the sake of meeting a metric.
Numbers don't just fill our initial worries, they creep so far into our subconscious that we begin to prioritize them in unhealthy ways. There have been so many occasions where I have heard numbers used to describe people. When we could be talking about how kind someone is, how determined someone is, or how happy someone is, we instead measure them. Saying "measure them" may sound harsh, but you and I both know that behind each number is a "good" or "bad."
I don't want to be known for my numbers. There are good ones and there are bad ones and there are average ones, but one way or the other, I am so much more of a person than my numbers suggest. And so are you. We owe it to ourselves to take the pressure off our numbers and look to what really matters.
This boils down to two points of action for you and me. First, we need to approach each person as a human being, not a metric that sticks out. Secondly, we need to stop thinking of ourselves as a number. We all have that one number that seems to cut us deeper than the others -- we need to let it go.
Instead of sitting and fretting about our salaries, we took a walk outside.
Instead of punishing ourselves for adding an extra pound, we had a moment of gratitude.
Instead of wondering if we'll be stuck in a less-than-average sized apartment forever, we called our gal pal just to say "hi."
WOW, put those lousy numbers aside and life has gotten so much better already.
Let's use words that matter, not numbers that sting. We're humans, not robots, we deserve more.