Total, All Encompassing Fear

I have conquered a lot of fears since I moved out west. The move itself was incredibly terrifying – setting myself up 2,000 miles from my nearest friend, in order to teach people about a wilderness of rock I knew nothing about. Since then I have scaled thousand foot cliffs and crossed crevasses too deep to see the bottom. I’ve done yoga on top of an arch and manned a 4-wheel-drive vehicle in the backcountry. I’ve climbed waterfalls, hiked solo, and can name every rock layer in southeast Utah. I’ve learned to smile at strangers and make friends of enemies. I even bought a plane ticket and trekked across Spain on my own. They say the two most common fears amongst our population are fear of public speaking and fear of heights. I surmount both on a daily basis as I give presentations to groups of 40+ while scaling 30 ft. ladders and balancing cliff-side.

And yet there’s one fear I just cannot get over, one that has plagued me since my elementary school days.

Fear of numbers.

I know I’ve been lacking in posts lately, but it’s for good reason: this Tuesday I will take the GRE, and I’ve been depriving myself of all procrastinatory activities (writing, of course, included) in an effort to study my patootie off and get good grades. I’m not even sure I really want to go to grad school, but there are a couple of programs I’ve stumbled upon recently that would fit perfectly into my current life vision (check them out here, here, and here). So this winter I made the decision that I should at least give myself the option to pursue this avenue by getting this silly test done and over with. It still took me 7 months to actually register for the test, but a few weeks ago I finally sucked it up and sacrificed my $175 to the standardized test gods.

I’ve spent every week-night since with my nose to the computer screen as I go over my downloaded study guide section by section. I decided to save the ‘quantitative reasoning’ portion (aka PAGES OF PAGES OF COMPLETE AND TOTAL AGONY) for the week leading up to the test. I rationalized it to myself by deciding that in this way, the information would be freshest on test day – but really I’ve known this entire time that it was the master procrastinator in me rearing her ugly head and screaming I DON’T WANNA I DON’T WANNA YOU CAN’T MAKE ME!!!

So that’s how I got to this moment: the moment where I opened that dreaded section and realized that despite all that I’ve grown in the past 2 years, this is one aspect of my life that has stayed exactly the same. Now I’m realizing that it was totally unreasonable to ever assume any different. I didn’t take a math class beyond Algebra II in high school (and didn’t do fantastically, for the record), and the only numbers class I took in college was Statistics. To be honest, I don’t remember much about the class itself, only being frustrated because the professor had a fantastic way of talking the entire period without teaching a single thing. I also remember calling my boyfriend at the time (a student at MIT) every night I attempted the homework. And I remember crying a lot during those conversations. He is likely the only reason I passed that class, and I’ll be damned if I can remember a single concept.

During my first attempt at a practice session this evening I got one answer right. One. Out of nine. Only an hour into studying and I’m fairly convinced I’ll need to get a perfect score on every other section in order to achieve a decent overall grade.

In short: I’m screwed. And to add to the tragedy of the evening I’ve just discovered that the dairy-free, wheat-free, oreo-looking cookies I brought home from the store the other day not only taste nothing like oreos, they are entirely inedible all together.

Alright single reader, help a girl out: What’s your biggest fear? Any tips on overcoming?

2 thoughts on “Total, All Encompassing Fear

  1. I’ve found that the best way to conquer fear, dear writer, is to face it head on – know there is success in the mere attempt. Take charge of the fear, don’t allow it to drive you. Treat yourself to an audible pep-talk. Most important of all, remember that no matter the outcome, you will still take breath and feel the wind in your face. The people who love you will be steadfast in their support and belief in you. The earth’s axis will not bend, and gravity will continue to keep us all upright. Persevere by recalling all you’ve overcome thus far in your relatively short existence. Have faith.

  2. It’s a matter of proportions: The harder subjects require the most effort and in math, well, practice makes perfect. I too had a fear of math. I still have nightmares about sitting down for a math exam and finding that the problems are riddles written in Chinese. I faced my fear with sheer stubbornness. Match wasn’t going to take me down. Given enough time and effort, you too will overcome.

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