Math Anxiety     by    Marshall

From the very beginning of life I absolutely hated anything mathematical. I would become extremely agitated, stressed, embarrassed, insecure and hopeless at the thought of attempting math, in fact, every time I attempted to learn I would become more discouraged. I disliked school, smart people, ( not really, but I did feel stupid that I couldn’t be like them) and there were even job opportunities I would turn down because I needed math skills. If I were Super Man, math would ultimately be my kryptonite.

Last Friday morning I was summoned by the Edmonds administration staff. I was greeted by two incredibly amazing women. They started humming the commencement song while presenting my high school Diploma. Wooooooh! Heck Yeah! As of now, I’ve earned my G.E.D, a Business Degree with Honors and now a high school Diploma! Oh, but wait, there’s more.

December of 2019 I joined a class/group from the University of Washington called Bridges to H.O.P.E. (Huskies for opportunities for prisoners education) Yep, I signed up for a math class. From the start I was overwhelmed, dripping sweat from hot flashes, holding back tears from 40 years of failed attempts. I voiced my frustration and pain. “I HATE MATH”. I was so exasperated I though about talking to mental health. The level of anger associated with math crippled me. I felt all my hope of attending college after prison slipping away.

After class I walked back to my prison cell and began screaming into my pillow like a five year old. If I could have only known at that point that I would be adopted by the worlds best tutor, I most likely would have fainted from relief. Today, because of Christopher’s great care, patients, math humor and friendship, my attitude has transformed completely about math. I’m currently enrolled in math 87. Intermediate Algebra. I find it strange to share with you that I’m two weeks ahead of the class, I’m scoring 100% on my quizzes, I wake up with math papers scattered all over my floor from studying late. What surpassed all other achievements so far happened yesterday. A guy from my 87 class needed help…from me! I was able to help someone with math! (silently shaking my head)

I meet with Christopher twice a week. I’m filled with appreciation and excitement every time we meet. I get to learn. I’m honored by his willingness to guide, encourage and nurture a beautiful new passion in my life. Mathematics. I’m fascinated how studying math somehow relives any stress that I might be experiencing throughout the day??? He’s teaching me Rational Exponents and Radicals, and shortly moving into Exponential and Logarithmic Functions. Today we talked about my path into Calculus.

I love my life, and although its way to early to say I love math, I’m willing to be friends.

Never Give Up Hope On Your Dreams

Marshall Byers