Why am I so Bad at Math?

To be very honest, I am reluctant to write about this topic because I am the queen at asking today's titled question: "Why am I so bad at this?" But honestly, whatever. I am going to go ahead and share. :)

So here are four steps to stop all the self-criticism and futile stress-

1. Stop asking the wrong questions

For my whole life, I have been the type of person who is stressed about all the things I am NOT good at. I am always thinking, "Why am I so bad at math?"; "Why can't I become a magnificent writer like A in my literature class?"; "When can I be a good coder?"; "Why do I know so little about everything"; "Why do I suck at dance?"

99% of the time, all of these questions turn into stress, anxiety, and endless complaints that are unproductive and negative. I would spend hours drowning myself in the muddy, grainy pond of self-doubt, self-hate, and self-criticism. Sometimes, I would even get jealous of people who excel in these areas - and I have realized that is horrible because I am projecting my anxieties onto amazing people who excel in these areas. They have done nothing wrong; I have.

2. There is nothing inherently wrong with you

Epiphany time. I realized that I have been asking the wrong questions all along. Instead of asking "Why am I so bad at math?" what I needed to ask myself was, "Hey, Alexandra, have you spent anytime on math today?" Insanely, but not surprisingly, the answer is always: NO. No, I have not spent a single second on math. The mere thought of math has not even occurred in my head for the whole day.

Yes, I have spent 40 minutes on Instagram; 1 hour on Wechat; 30 minutes reading Emerson; 1 hour talking to my friends. Yes, I have spend 1 hour eating, 30 minutes running, and 30 minutes listening to a podcast. But No, I have spent 0 minute on math. ZERO. And that is terrifying. But that is also good, in so many ways. Because it means that I am not inherently bad at math, and that I can quit all the self-hatred and self-talk. It means that I could be good at math if I wanted to.

The raw, truthful fact that is as simple as this: I have not been putting in the necessary time and effort to make my goal happen. I have not carved out time for math, no wonder math isn't my best friend. It's all about reciprocating.

3. Now, action.

Now that we have identified the REAL problem, it's much easier. All I have to do now is do a little math every single day. Maybe tomorrow I will spend 5 minutes on solving calculus questions, and the day after tomorrow I will spend 10 minutes reading a math article. And no, I will not excel at math in a short time, but I will definitely see improvements in my mathematical abilities as time passes.

4. Damn. It's all about opportunity cost.

No wonder I suck at math. It turns out that in the past 90 days of summer holiday, I have spend a total of only 60 minutes on math. That is 60 minutes in the entirety of the past 90 days. Guess what? I have spent 60 minutes on Instagram every single day. For the past 90 days, no break, nonstop, nothing could stop me from going on Instagram. No wonder the quality of my Instagram posts are much better than my mathematical abilities.

So instead of spending hours and hours feeling inept, or lacking in the abilities you wish to achieve, you need to recognize that you probably have not been putting in the necessary time and effort that this goal deserves. If you did not talk to your best friend for 90 days, are you really still best friends? I doubt that. It's the same thing with every goal you have. Math is almost like a person.

It's not you. You are not dumb. You are not inept. You are totally capable. You are filled with potential. It's just that you have been investing your time in other areas! My instagram game might be strong, but my math is bad. And that is not because I am naturally good at Instagram, it's simply that I spent more time on Instagram than I have on math. It's as easy as that - it's all about opportunity cost.

Alexandra Huang