Just trying to change the world, one blogpost at a time.

29 June 2016

5 Things I Learnt from Maths

Maths has, and will probably always be my favourite subject. 
Though I enjoyed other subjects and generally liked to learn, Maths was the one thing I'd come back to. I'd go home and happily do the 30 or so homework questions that had been set, I'd spend extra time trying to figure out the problem that had left my class (and at times my teacher) stunned. 
How I loved finding my way to the answer!
Studying a Mathematics degree was difficult, and in honesty, I even considered changing after my first year but nothing else took my interest in the same way. So though it was one of the biggest challenges I've faced to date, if I had to do it over I'd still pick the same subject.
I learnt alot, about standard algebra, game theory, fluid dynamics, coding and cryptography and many more things that I don't use on a day to day basis, but Maths in itself taught me a few things about life that I would like to share with you.

1. If in doubt, simply!
There were many complex and intimidating equations that I had to attempt to solve whilst at University, some that would literally take pages to reach an answer. After trying, and many times failing, to tackle problems and just work through the madness, I finally decided to implement a technique that had got me through A-Levels, simplifying. Now in mathematical terms, this basically refers to reducing an equation to its most basic condition, which helps to tidy things up and allows you to clearly decipher your next move. I've found the same applies to life. Often, we end up in complicated situations whether self-inflicted or thrust upon us and then panic sets in when we get stuck and can't figure out what to do next. Simplifying the situation, finding the root cause, spliting it into smaller manageable parts or finding ways to eliminate things from our focus completely can help us to calm down and rationally work through our next steps. Whilst simplifying might not necessarily get you to the answer, it'll definitely take you a step further. 

2. Start with what you know. 
The maths dilemma probably begins at A-Level. It's like you're taught about one topic, lets say oranges perhaps. You learn everything there is to know, the entire syllabus front to back; you do all the practice sheets and when the exam comes around you feel confident. You open the first page only to see a question on bananas - wtf?! It happened to me countless times but somewhere during my degree came the realization that these weren't trick questions, they just required application of information rather than just knowledge. Though the answers to questions may not have been obvious, there was always a link between what I had been taught and what I was being tested on. I think the same is true for life, sometimes things come out of nowhere and we have to face challenges we'd never even dreamt of. But somewhere in our experiences, in the things others have told us, in books we've read or shows we've watched, they'll be something that can at least get us started on finding the best solution for us. Information can often be broken apart and you can apply what's necessary to your own life.

3. If you don't know, say so!
It's pretty self explanatory really. Being the one in lectures who has no idea what's going on but doesn't want to ask out of pride or fear of looking silly gets old real fast. Better to ask the 'silly' questions and learn that to sit there in silence and be lost. The same applies in everyday life, perhaps even more so. If you don't know how to do something - ask someone! Literally, many of us, myself included, don't like to ask for help because we think it makes us look weak or incapable and we fear being judged by others whether we like to admit it or not. But to be honest, being lost is no fun and as we aren't mind readers this is something that is especially important in relationships, platonic or otherwise. If you don't know how someone feels about something - ask them! Whether or not they give you a straight answer is a different question entirely, lol sometimes we like to talk in riddles, I say we cause I'm definitely not exempt, the waffling can be real sometimes! And it doesn't have to be asking a physical person, sometimes you need to ask Google to get your information and that's alright!

4. There's more than one way to get there!
We learn this pretty young when we learn the rules of arithmetic. Whether you do a+b or b+a you get the same answer. axb = bxa = ab. Basically whether you count a lots of b, or b lots of a, you'll still end up at the right answer. The further you dive into Mathematics, the more possible variations you'll find to get you to that final destination. Sometimes you start off down one train of thought and get stuck, luckily there about 20 more methods you can try. I've had the same goals for life since I was young; I want to be successful, I want to travel, I'd like to be a mum and wife someday, and I want to be sexy basically. And what I've come to realise after, way too long, is that there's more than one way to get there. I might stumble down one road only to find a deadend but we have this amazing thing called tomorrow, at least we hope to, and tomorrow there's always a chance to venture down a different road. Hell why wait until tomorrow, you can try a new road in the next hour! It's easy to get lost in the routes other people are taking or the inital route you had planned for yourself but in life and in maths, you have to be firm about the goal but flexible about the means. Everyone around you is in the same exam hall but best believe they are sitting a different paper, trying to peer over to copy won't serve you at all! Shxt happens - and when certain things don't work out it's okay to be upset or angry or frustrated but since time is only running out, don't give up just try something new!

5. The beauty is in the attempt!
Method marks - oh how I loved you! Even if you get the wrong answer, examiners would still give you marks for your method - how amazing is that?! It happened, sometimes under the pressure, a plus would become a minus, a 2 would become an s (yes that actually happens) and you'd end up with an answer that was completely wrong but if you followed a logical method and obviously had a good idea of what you were doing, you'd still get marks. Now obviously we don't have people going around giving us ticks or crosses on our lives (actually then again, maybe we kinda do) but sometimes we just wind up at the wrong answer. We take the wrong job, we date the wrong person, we just get it wrong! But no experience is wasted, everything we go through can be used as a lesson that will leave us better informed in the future. Sometimes, we beat ourselves up for way to long about mistakes but as #4 says, there's more than one way to get to our final destinations. If you know you gave something your all and actually tried your best - you still get an A for effort!

Stay Blessed,

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