Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally

      A year ago I joined a book club.  It wasn't like any other book club, but a special group of women from different walks of life, brought together by a common struggle for which they found a common solution.  They have since become the key ingredient to my happy, grateful heart and strong determination.  They are women of Action.  

     We chose to read a book called "Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway".   It was not a book I would have chosen, but these women far outweigh any book.  So, "The fear book" as we came to call it, became our focus.  The first night we began sharing our fears and limiting beliefs.  Mine was the fear of Math.  Of course I wasn't prepared to do anything with it, and it seemed ridiculous, but it had defeated me. I was afraid of it and hated it.  Twenty years ago I came to terms with the fact that I would never finish college because of it, and gave up.  I had some sort of disability and that was my lot.  One woman said to me, "You ought to take a math class."  Personally, I thought she should mind her own business.

     A funny thing happened:  Eight months later I was sitting in a math class.

     Fear is a strange, strange thing.  It paralyzes.  It lies.  It keeps us stagnant and shrinks our self-esteem.  We become victims to it, and it can terrorize us day after day.  But Fear's greatest weapon is Action. We have to put one foot in front of the other to really know if the fear is even real.  I knew that the only chance I had of beating this thing was to try it; to feel the fear but do it anyway.  I wasn't going back to school.  I was only taking one math class to see if it could be done.  I came up with a small plan (small is the key), and if I succeeded, I would look into taking a second math class.  I also made a deal with myself, that I would not allow outside influences to push me, discount me, or guilt me into taking on anything else.  This needed to be done, and once again I shrank my world to just what I could handle.

     It wasn't easy and  fear was always shouting.  I was the oldest student and the slowest student, and spent many moments crying in the bathroom stall.  Every day, when class was over I would go down to the math lab for extra help and often stayed there for 4 hours.  Eventually, I would grasp the concept, ask for more homework (weird), and gain a little confidence.  I had become something new.. Diligent.  My wings grew a little bigger and it felt good; really good.  Sharing my test scores with my book club was the best part.  They never dismissed my efforts as being easy.  What they did was encourage me while affirming that I was a force to be reckoned with --from a victim to a force to be reckoned with-- That is how facing my fear was transforming me.

    With the help of  a math-nerd best friend, a gentle husband, family, friends, and the women of my book club, I did succeed.  I made an A in that class; the first A I've ever made in Math.  It was not my smarts, but my diligence and determination that did it.  Motivation follows action.  And action shrinks fear.  It doesn't matter if I don't make an A, it only matters that I keep going.  

So in keeping with the plan, I'm off to buy a graphing calculator for my next math class beginning in 2 weeks.  Pressing onward.

If you're thinking of facing your own fear, remember this.... If you succeed, things will change.  And if you fail, you'll learn something new and things will change.  Either way, the action has rewards.  If the question is "when", then my answer is..... How About Now?


  1. Yea! Yea! Yea! I think you are awesome. Very proud of you...the math class and a post on the blog!

  2. I was searching the web looking for commentary on order of operations (aka PEMDAS) and stumbled onto this post. I'm pleased I did. It's well written and shows that math, as intimidating as it may be to some, can be learned, even by those who've failed before. Thank you for an excellent post.