Math, a Memoir by Emilee
Little 11-year-old me. Chubby, acne covered face, self-conscious little me about to head off into middle school. It was the end of summer and the thought of school starting up again, haunted me. More specifically, the very thought of starting a special four letter word, that can send any student into a panic – math. Math had never been my strong suit, and still isn’t to this day, I was already a year behind where I should have been, barely being able to wrap my brain around all these facts and rules floating around in my head. Self-conscious and middle school are two words that often go hand and hand, and me being a nervous wreck wanted to skip an entire year. I was filled with too much worry to think about what was best for me, too scared that everyone in 6th grade would make fun of me because I was still struggling with 4th grade math. An absurd thought now considering I was homeschooled, only going to a small Christian homeschool group where I would be in a physical class only once a week, but it was all new to me, and I heard how brutal kids my age were, and I was determined to not be a victim of that middle school cruelty. So I indulged in one of the many joys of being homeschooled, and skipped right ahead to 6th grade math. It didn’t seem like a big deal at the time, I reassured myself there was plenty of review to jump back in and be okay, but as I continued it become obvious I was building on top of a broken foundation. I stumbled on to pre-algebra in 9th grade, but only having made everything worse, gone back down a couple years. Nothing seemed to help and breaking into tears became part of my daily routine. Far too often I was curled up in my mother’s arms, eyes puffy and red, salty tears falling like rain on my plump cheeks, feeling utterly useless because even such a simple concept seem to go in one ear and fly out the other. Procrastination seemed to be my best skill, and I always said if it became an Olympic sport I would win gold every time. I lived in bliss until deadlines approached and I was forced to bring along my math book to social events and curious questions of, “Oh what are you doing?” led to “Oh, you’re learning that now? I learned that years ago,” and offers of help with tons of pity in their voice meant only one thing to me, “You’re an idiot.” With all my smart friends talking about the AP classes they were in and good grades they were getting, school became a topic that I couldn’t stand. Instantly becoming nervous whenever it was brought up because I knew they would think I was stupid or simply not trying hard enough. I was always so set on being like everyone else, desperate to feel like a genius in their eyes, but I learned something along this path, we’re not all meant to learn the same way. We’re always told to be our self, stand out and be different, so why should that not apply to the way we learn? Here I am, having taken several steps, and though it’s frustrating sometimes and people may question me, it’s crucial to learn the importance of slowing down and taking the extra step that you may need. Maybe I’ll never be good at math, but I’m determined to not let the standards of everyone else define who I am.