one time, math punched me in the face. it was awesome.
okay, i'll stop with the mean girls quotes. but seriously, failing math in high school was one of the best things to happen to me. here's why.
i learned how to read, write, and do arithmetic by the age of four, before i even started kindergarten. from elementary school through middle school, i continuously got good grades, was placed into honors classes, and almost always made the honor roll (report card day was my favorite day). when i entered high school in 9th grade, i was placed into a 10th-grade math class.
i struggled with math that year, but was able to just pass with grades in the 70s (i had never seen a score lower than 85 on my report card before, but hey, i was grateful for a 70 at that point). 10th-grade came and kicked me down even further. trigonometric functions? standard deviations? polynomial expansion? WHAT. IS THIS. STUFF?!?! IMAGINARY NUMBERS, okay, you have GOT to be kidding me. no matter how hard i tried (and i did try really hard), i continued to be completely lost. i just wasn't getting it. i ended up failing the course with a 55 (and also failed the state assessment).
HELLO SUMMER SCHOOL! it wasn't so bad the second time around because a lot of the material was somewhat familiar to me, but i think the greatest catalyst for passing this class was my determination to NOT fail again. i had never failed anything in my entire life, yet there i was -- a rising 11th-grader spending my summer retaking a course meanwhile the rising 10th-graders i was sitting next to were taking the course just to "get ahead". i kind of saw math as an obstacle to overcome...and maybe even an enemy. so i ended up passing the class and the state assessment #REVENGE.
i took precalculus in 11th grade with even more determination to do well...and i did! i ended up in AP calculus my final year of high school. though i was taking a college-level math course in high school, my low self-confidence in my mathematical abilities still lingered. i worked my butt off for that class, but i still felt like i was lagging behind my other classmates. my AP calc teacher would always reassure me that i would pass the AP exam, but i didn't believe him. i almost wanted him to stop believing in me because i knew i wouldn't pass and i didn't want to let him down. after i took the AP exam at the end of the year, i came out of the exam thinking "welp, i definitely failed". when i received my scores in the mail, i was completely shocked to see that i scored a 5 (out of 5), which meant that i received 8 college-level math credits, and that i wasn't required to take an math courses in college.
i entered college as an undecided major and figured that i would just take a bunch of required courses to figure out what i wanted to study. literature, history, sociology, psychology, language, theology, philosophy...i didn't find myself passionate about any course. what i realized halfway through my second year of college was that i missed math so much. i then knew i had to major in it. i did still have a lot of self-doubt and fears going into a math major. why would i major in the ONE class i've ever failed in? what career would i end up in if i became a math major? all very valid concerns, but i knew that if i just majored in something i loved, i would end up in a career that made me happy. it's hard to just dive and hope for the best, but something in me compelled me to major in math, and i'm so happy with that decision.