I’ve always been afraid of mathematics. I admit it. It’s always been difficult for me, long divisions and mathematical word problems were hard when I was in elementary school, and my best ever grades in math were never better then a B.
Now in college, they were recently kicking my ass. Calculus was causing me unneeded stresses and worries. I realized that what everybody else needed to study for 2 hours, I had to study for 4 hours. I needed to work extra hard to succeed in this particular dicipline, but the goddamn creeping belief of inferiority kept popping into my brain ‘you’re not good at math. You’re already feeling unconfident, why study and feel worst?’. This of course is a completely irrational statement, since when one faces his fear he’s much more prone to achieve confidence, but I was afraid of the pain of growth. I WAS COMFORTABLE WITH MY LIMITATION.
And there I stood, just feeling increasingly insecure about my calculus exam. My computer and books just sat there on my desk. I would leave my room, go and play xbox, work out, anything that would keep my mind free of my responsability, but I would later return to my room to find the work sitting there and the full sensation of paralyzing axiety would creep up on me again, rendering me weak and fraid. I studied for 2-3 hours not getting the bulk of how to resolve the exercises and I failed the exam the next day. Needless to say, coupling this with difficult family issues as well as a horrible break up with my first ever girlfriend of 3 years, the whole situation put me in a bad place emotionally and I had to improvise on how to solve a personal crisis.
I was in a hole I found no escape from. And the worst part of it? I knew that if I had dedicated more time to the study of advanced calculus, I would’ve been able to pass the exam. I had been controlled and subduded by my irrational fears and insecurities. No one had my back (my family didn’t know I had failed, and I hate telling friends ‘poor me’ stories) so I resolved to beg the professor for another chance. And so I did, and low and behold, I received an email from him reprimanding me, telling me he knew I was smarter then that and offering a second chance to prove I could do it right, BUT on one condition: The exam had to have a perfect score for me to pass.
Instead of being completely content and ready to kick ass guess what? THE IRRATIONAL FEAR GOT BACK IN MY HEAD, ANGRY THAT I NOW HAD TO WORK AGAIN. This was the moment in my life, emotionally wrecked and alone, personal problems at home and having a complete intimate disconnect with my social circle, that I had to rely on myself to succeed. So what did I do?
I NUTTED THE FUCK UP.
Aside from the blistering blow to my confidence my recent failure and break up had on me, I managed to take my savings and hire an engineer to tutor me. I ended up going into debt with my own mother to pay for the hours I really needed to succeed. I studied more calculus then I ever had in my life. I’d like to say that that gave me a secret momentum based on hard work that made me forget my problems and my emotional distress, but it didn’t. No cliché here. I wanted to quit every hour of studying at least once to just break down and cry myself to sleep.
But I didn’t. I studied until I couldn’t study anyumore or else I’d have a brain aneurism. The teacher had given me 2 days to prepare (his mother had died recently so he wanted to rest a few days), and in those days, numbers became my life. I had never been so afraid of a piece of paper as I was that day. Yes, failing meant I would lose my scholarship and I’d have to begin working full time with a side hustle just to be able to spot 80 percent of what I’d have to pay to stay in school, aside from having to do another year.
I did the best I could on my test, but due to my limiting beliefs in the field of mathematics, I was sure I had failed. A couple of days passed and I received the Email I was afraid of. I had goosebumps, my heart pounded extremely fast, and it was hard to breathe, but I opened up the Email. I had passed. Not even relief, rejoice or happiness filled me when I read the words. I was reactionless. Then it sunk in and I went to deeply thank my mother for spotting me the cash for my tutor when I had run out of money.
This may seem like one of the smallest victories you’ve ever heard of, but I was on the brink of losing everything. I had been rejected and forgotten about a person I loved very much, my family was moving out of the country, and thanks to being a complete beta in the last six months, I had alienated my friends leaving myself with no social circle to back myself on. And still, I fucking made it, against calculus. You may be wondering what the moral of the story is. It’s not some cliché ‘work hard and you will make it’ or ‘You can do it!’. No, not that. The real painful fact about this was a part of me didn’t want to succeed. I felt I had lost everything already.
I didn’t want to fight, but I still did. I’m not sure what drove me, I’ll be damned if I know, but whatever it was, it kept me alive. Maybe it was my inner fire, or some mystic force of the universe, who the fuck knows. But I was scared, confused, intimidated and almost certain of my failure. When everything is dark and you’ve even lost the will to fight, keep fighting, if not for yourself, if not to keep you busy, then do it for the fire within you. Go down with a fight. Even if it kills you, even if you can’t go on, even if every second of the work you’re putting in seems futile and is overwhelmingly difficult, do it anyway. The world may provide. It might very well be what saves you.