Nina's Stillwater Calendar

Sunday, March 4

Feeling Intimidated

You may have noticed a few references this semester to my Algebraic Geometry class. That's because it is always hard, usually incomprehensible, and sometimes humiliating. Adding to my general misery is the indisputable fact that I know a whole lot less than anyone else in that class about algebra. When a homework problem requires some fact from general algebra, I have to go beg someone to walk me through. But I don't always know it requires such a fact unless someone tells me. So I am afraid that everything has some meaning I am missing that is completely obvious to everyone else. I don't even like to discuss homework problems because eventually everyone will figure out that I have no idea what is going on.

So imagine how I felt last Friday when, during a study session with the professor, I opened my big mouth while we were discussing problem #1 to say I thought I had a solution and Toshi asked me to present it on the board because he wasn't sure how to do it. Here was a perfect opportunity to get up and make an idiot of myself. I tried avoidance. I got up and mumbled a bit and tried to sit back down without really saying anything. It didn't work. People started asking questions like "What did you do?" and I was stuck explaining myself clearly. When I finished my, as it turned out, perfect solution, I asked if I could crawl under the table now. So I still managed to convey that I am an idiot while preserving the opportunity to mess up a solution in some spectacularly obvious way later. Brilliant.

p.s. Lest all this give you the wrong impression, I really do like Algebraic Geometry. It's a sick sort of happiness.

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