WP2: Introduction and Academic History

As we’ve grown up, people in positions of authority present us with limited choices, often a choice between the option to pursue a “society approved” life path or follow a personal dream that could be more fulfilling. This structure of youth management sets many young kids and teens on a path to be unfulfilled in their lives because they think everything comes down to choosing one thing over the other, and we are often persuaded to make the choice that fits in with a safe, societal norm.

The education system we know creates and enforces these norms. The curriculum educates in a linear style made for neurotypical learners, and the students who may be neurodivergent (me) and fly under the radar get left behind. Too many students are shunned by the education system and then blamed like it’s their fault, and too many educators teach the idea that the real key to academic success is a simple choice between “being smart” or “being lazy”. What sucks the most is that I fully believed that mentality when I was a student! But I didn’t want to choose between doing what I had to do and doing what I loved, playing softball, being a musician, and taking Stanford seminar classes in topics I was truly interested in. However, the choice was eventually made for me, because in order to pass any math and math adjacent classes I had to spend so much time after school in tutoring centers that the only other thing I had time for was music. I ended up choosing to focus on finding validation in music and my relationship with school worsened because I was only completing work to hopefully graduate.

Thankfully I somehow did manage to graduate and as I left high school academia felt like a prison that I was finally getting a chance to escape. It was like I didn’t even recognize myself or the inquisitive, curious girl I had been before the life was sucked out of me over seven years of mental torture. Only now that I’m two years away from that experience have I been able to address the pain and sadness and the self-esteem issues that came from feeling inadequate all the time.

But my story isn’t solely about dwelling on hardship, I just want to address it so I can accurately the importance of what I’m doing to heal my relationship with education. While struggling with math made many subjects difficult for me, I am now finding ways to reconnect with intellectual passions that I once thought were lost. In this archive, I want to take the opportunity to explain why math posed so many problems for me and how it affected every aspect of my life, but most importantly I want to address how I am overcoming those mental blocks now. I am currently rewriting my choices and my view of learning, and thankfully I am finding my love for learning again by consuming media that feeds the parts of myself that were neglected for so long. In this self history, I will highlight the areas of interest that I thought were lost and share the books, visual media, and projects that have helped me rediscover who I want to be.

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