So today was supposed to be a good day. I was supposed to go to the Faculty of Science awards ceremony and get my TA award thingy and everything was supposed to be great.
But instead I had a panic attack.
I’m calmer now (obviously; can’t write a blog in the middle of a panic attack), but I’m sitting in my office with a really bad headache and a really high degree of self-hatred. I mean, I’m never too thrilled with myself, but it’s been awhile since I’ve just felt so damn worthless.
So school starts up again tomorrow. And I’m super nervous about it.
Well, okay, I’m always super nervous about school. I’ve basically been in high anxiety mode since 2006. You might wonder what the hell I’m so nervous about. I’ve had almost a decade of college now (DEAR GOD, THAT’S DEPRESSING) and I’ve already gone through a master’s program. What’s the big deal?
The big deal is the following: that first master’s program? That was the worst two goddamn years of my life. Every day was miserable and the thought of going to campus made me physically ill on several occasions. I hated meeting with my supervisor because I knew I would get berated to some degree no matter what we were talking about.
I was so nervous and stressed out that most of the second year is gone from my memory. Seriously. I don’t remember much school-wise beyond just being miserable and wanting to quit. I wanted to quit so badly. I honestly have no idea how I finished that thesis and successfully defended it. My fear and anxiety made me procrastinate and I really didn’t get started on things until March (I had to defend in June). Really, I was just not in a good mental place that entire year.
And while I know this time is almost completely different in every aspect, I still have that fear and anxiety about the process. And I still get nauseous whenever I have to meet with Dr. Chen just because of how bad things were between my supervisor and me before. I know Dr. Chen’s not like that at all, but there’s still that fear.
There’s still the fear about everything regarding this whole thing.
And that’s why I’m super nervous.
Alright fools, sit your butts down. Today’s blog post is an important one.
I’ll start this whole thing off with a confession. You’ve all heard me say that I can’t do math in my head, right? Well, that’s a lie. I am perfectly capable of doing math in my head.
I just can’t do it when others expect me to be able to do math in my head.
Elaboration: like a lot of people, I’ve always equated math ability with intelligence. I know that’s a narrow and inaccurate way to define intelligence, but for the longest time, math was my go-to smarts-o-meter. That’s probably because I used to be hella afraid of it and thus considered anyone who wasn’t hella afraid of it to be way smarter than I was.
I’ve long since redefined how I view intelligence. Namely, it’s very obvious to me now that people can easily be “intelligent” in a wide variety of things (think Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences). A dude who’s fantastic at painting but horrible with numbers, for example, can be just as intelligent as a dude who’s amazing with numbers but not so much with paint. And people who are not “book smart” (or “school smart” or whatever) can be ridiculously intelligent in other aspects of existence that just aren’t captured by that book smartness/school smartness.
I’m sure most if not all of my readers would agree with this.
However, if you’re someone who likes math and are around people who know you like math, they’re probably going to expect you to be good at mental calculations. That’s always been my experience, at least.
And that makes me panic like you wouldn’t believe.
Especially since going into the quantitative/statistics side of things, my ability to do math in my head—“on the fly”—has gotten worse. And I think that’s because if the people I’m around know I’m into stats, I suspect they automatically assume I’m some sort of human calculator. And if I can’t prove my amazing calculating abilities, then I’m too stupid to be studying something like stats. After all, who wants a statistician who can’t add 23 + 27 in their heads?
Here’s the thing. I can add 23 + 27 in my head. It’s super easy to do. But if you just ask me to do it, I will panic and not be able to because I’m too busy freaking out about being judged on if I’m doing the calculation quick enough or what would happen if I make an error.
That sounds really stupid and maybe a bit unclear. Let’s use pictures to clear it up a bit.
Here’s what I would suspect loosely happens in the head of a person without this “math on the fly” anxiety when they’re asked to add 146 + 279:
And here’s what happens to me and, I suspect, a good deal of others:
I’m not exaggerating. When someone poses a math question—even something simple like basic addition—I automatically lose focus on the numbers and start freaking out about how dumb they think I am if I don’t answer it right away.
And I can’t be the only one. However, most of my friends (based on just watching them answer impromptu math questions) don’t experience this, so I just wanted to show you how it is for me.
So there you go.
Things I should have done today:
Things I did instead:
- Had repeated panic attacks
- Worked on my incredibly crappy fanfic
- Dealt with unreliable people
- Tried to ignore the present in favor of the future
- Freaked out because ignoring the present will cause me to have no future
- Made an obscene amount of stupid puns
- Cried in the corner
- Had more panic attacks
Once you let me leave the house.
In the meantime…
STATS JOKES STATS JOKES STATS JOKES!
Because it’s that kind of a day.
- One day there was a fire in a wastebasket in the Dean’s office and in rushed a physicist, a chemist, and a statistician. The physicist immediately starts to work on how much energy would have to be removed from the fire to stop the combustion. The chemist works on which reagent would have to be added to the fire to prevent oxidation. While they are doing this, the statistician is setting fires to all the other wastebaskets in the office. “What are you doing?” they demanded. “Well, to solve the problem, obviously you need a large sample size” the statistician replies.
- What’s the question the Cauchy distribution hates the most?
“Got a moment?”
- Did you hear about the statistician who was looking all over for the sum of eigenvalues from a variance-covariance matrix but couldn’t find a trace?
- Did you hear about the nonparametrician who couldn’t get his driving license? He couldn’t pass the sign test.
- A middle-aged man suddenly contracted the dreaded disease kurtosis. not only was this disease severely debilitating, but he had the most virulent strain called leptokurtosis. A close friend told him his only hope was to see a statistical physician who specialized in this type of disease. The man was very fortunate to locate a specialist but he had to travel 800 miles for an appointment.
After a thorough physical exam, the statistical physician exclaimed, “Sir, you are indeed a lucky person in that the FDA has just approved a new drug called Mesokurtimide for your illness. This drug will bulk you in the middle, smooth out your stubby tail, and restore your longer range of functioning. In other words, you will feel ‘NORMAL’ again!”
- What did one regression coefficient say to the other regression coefficient?
“I’m partial to you!”
- Why are the mean, median, and mode like a valuable piece of real estate?
LOCATION! LOCATION! LOCATION!
Yay, I feel better now.
Today I present The Stages of Claudia’s Reaction to a Math Test
Right before the test: I freaking love calculus! I totally know this stuff.
Looking over the problems: LET’S DO THIS!
Doing the problems: What’s a plus sign?
Right after handing it in: Crap. That went badly.
10 minutes after handing it in: I suck I suck I suck I suck I suck
Rest of the day: WHY AM I SO BAD AT EVERYTHING I LOVE?
Next day: I’ve disappointed myself.
Following day: I’ve disappointed the gods of calculus.
Following day: I’ve disappointed everyone.
All next week: I am a worthless soul who can’t do anything right. Why do I even bother, it’s not like I’m smart enough for any of this. [insert obnoxious amount of pointless angst]
Getting the test back: Oh, an A. Okay.
This has seriously happened three times this semester. Still trying to shake that damn math test anxiety that’s been following me since high school.
The math part of my brain (that ITTY BITTY LITTLE TROOPER) is internalizing some substantial portion of this awesome stuff. Why can’t the rest of my brain figure that out?
I never have this problem with stats. More proof that at least for me, stats and math are quite different things.
So last night I had a dream about C++. Our professor had changed our final exam to a final essay/report. I got the brilliant idea to create a program to write my paper for me. So that’s what I did, and I turned the paper in with total confidence that I’d get an A. Then I got it back and got like a 20% because I forgot to write my program to print the citations for all the sources I used in the paper. Cue total panic mode.
Hooray dream-induced panic attacks!
Haha, the Harlem Shake is actually kind of hilarious.
Here’s Western Ontario with their classy rockin’ (I’ve been in that hallway!)
That guy in the bottom left corner with the big finger, hahaha.
And then there’s UI.
It’s one of those “12 hours on campus every day” weeks.
Which means it’s also one of those “have repeated panic attacks in my office” weeks.
Come on, brain. Now’s not the time for your BS. Wait until after finals, alrighty? I’ll let you concentrate on nothing but naughty Leibniz thoughts* if you wait until after finals to spaz yourself into a quagmire of busted synapses.
In other news: I need this shirt.
*You do that anyway, but whatevs.
Yaaaaay, my mom is here! Actually, she got here yesterday but it was late and she was tired but I had a minor mental breakdown and we ended up going to Denny’s at 11 PM and then drove around Stanley Park for another hour before we went home and crashed after M&Ms.
(Run on sentences make me look cool, yo.)
Today I unfortunately have a lot of school-related crap work to do today, but tomorrow we’re both taking the day off and screwing around. I’m taking her to Metropolis, a mall that could swallow about 30 Palouse Malls (not kidding) so we can take our minds off of our current situations, both of which suck.
I freaking love my mom, this is going to be awesome.
This week’s been like one long anxiety attack. I think my brain’s in one of those “I’m gonna spaz out for no reason” modes that involves near constant déjà vu-like experiences and a lot of general panic. Hooray. Hope this stops before BOSTON TIME!
I also had an extremely strange dream involving Matt, Maggie, Rebeca, and myself that centered around a large gym, a towel over which Matt was strangely possessive, an air vent, a promised orgy inside said air vent, and a lot of jealously/private making out. Matt was angry the whole dream, Maggie was on tranquilizers or something. It was…weird.
Also, read Lolita.
Today’s song: Overkill by Colin Hay
WOAH my mind went to strange and bad places last night while I was trying to sleep. Car crashes, dying cats, being locked in my dad’s basement with Sean, Aaron and Megan and trying frantically to get us all out, fractals, panic attacks, being late, Vaio II in peril…
It was really, really strange. At least I didn’t wake up on the kitchen floor like I did a week or so ago. And at least there were no fruit suits. Nothing will EVER be weirder than the fruit suit dream.
I was going to day-trip to Wal-Mart today, but when I looked outside and notice that it was like a freaking hurricane out there, I stayed in and played Half-Life. And drew. And updated my CV.
Also, I’m just not feeling Script Frenzy. My creative muse is like, “it’s drawin’ time, bitch!” and I’m all, “yes, sir!” (my creative muse is a man). I’m super stressed out about school, and usually when I’m stressed, I automatically revert to drawing versus writing. Writing is more for happy/sad/angry/horny/whatever the hell other moods I experience.
I also think I’m all dialogued out from Prime, haha.
Where was I going with this?
Oh yeah. I may or may not crap out 100 pages, time will tell. Not digging my script idea, but I wasn’t digging Prime in the beginning, either.
Also, Maggie has me on a Mika kick, THANKS A LOT, MAGGIE, JEEZ.
Today’s song: Love Today by Mika