Student Experience

I’m (Not) Good at Math

     It’s taken around 20 math-related mental breakdowns and countless bad grades on math exams since the age of 10 to realize that, maybe, just maybe, I wasn’t the best at math. 

    I can’t quite pinpoint what it is yet. Is it the numbers? Is it the formulas? Is it just that I never ‘clicked’ with any of my teacher’s ways of explaining it to me? Or is it my fault that I find it difficult to apply a formula without my teachers guiding me every step of the way? By the time I was a student in high school, I’ve treated the elementary concepts of fractions and divisions and decimals with dread, disdain, and avoidance, regardless if I have the skill or not.

     I’ve always been convinced that some people are just born with it, how understanding new concepts and solving them just comes easy to them, not always considering the possibility that they just spend more of their time studying and practicing than I do. The worst part is that I’m not a bad student, even if not understanding mathematics at everyone’s pace makes me feel that way. I excel in language and literature, and because of this, I enjoy my literature and Chinese classes. It’s not something I view with contempt, and math is the only subject I struggle immensely in.

    Another issue I’ve noticed when thinking about my academic performance, in general, is that I don’t measure my success by my attitude, but instead by my grades. My grades are what’s going to get me in college, I convince myself. So when I don’t score well in math regardless of how many tutoring sessions I attend, I become frustrated with myself. I start believing that I’m unable to understand this subject and that I should just not bother trying. But if I stop trying, my grade in math is really gonna go down the drain.

It’s difficult to realize it when you’re curled up in your bedsheets trying to avoid it, but slowly I’m beginning to accept that the reason I’m “not good at math” is mostly because I haven’t worked hard enough to improve, and my outlook on the subject is overwhelmingly negative. A positive attitude for math shouldn’t be the effect of success, but rather a contributing cause to success, and it doesn’t necessarily mean I have to like math. It simply means I need to shift my outlook on it.


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