The stories I tell

I was sorting through a bin of miscellany this weekend, trying to find homes for all the stubborn bits floating around our house still, when I came across a folder of paperwork from my high school era. I got sucked in somehow and next thing I knew, was looking at my college entrance exam result reports.

I took 4 separate tests and in each one, my math scores were equal to or lower than my verbal scores. My initial reaction was surprise and then I remembered how confused my parents and teachers were at the time, too. The refrains of, “Really? But how? We all know that you’re a math person…”

I don’t want to give too much importance to standardized test results. And part of the answer is straightforward – I attended a small rural high school and simply wasn’t exposed to the same level of subject matter as the average American high school senior. Math testing is more dependent on subject matter knowledge than vocabulary or reading comprehension. It made sense.

But it also caught me. What if the story that I’ve been telling myself for a couple decades was just wrong? Certainly I did enjoy studying math – I am the same person who took extra math courses by correspondence in high school, and thought hard about pursuing a graduate degree in pure math after finishing my bachelor’s. But there’s also a trail of breadcrumbs suggesting maybe I was missing something. I enjoyed my college English classes enough I considered getting a minor, before ultimately deciding that computer science was more applicable. I dreamt about writing travel guides every time I spent any time abroad. I have a habit of re-writing actuarial reports.

I feel like it’s been a process of self-discovery in the last few years that has opened my eyes to how grounding a writing practice is for me and how much I enjoy the process. I’ve revised the story a bit to allow that I am an analytical person with a little writing hobby.

It makes me wonder… how has that narrative influenced my decisions? what other stories do I believe just because I tell myself so?