unlearning masochism

By Laura Gao • 3 min read
April 2023

"why are you reading in my class?" mr sun, gr 7 math teacher, would ask.

"ms munro says reading is good for learning," i would say. ms munro, my english teacher, let us read in her class.

he would look at me, mouth open, eyebrows slanted downwards, and i would put the book in my bag.

he turns back to the whiteboard. next problem: if 4x+5 = 17, what is x? oh this question is a bit harder than the previous ones. there are 2 seps. firs u subrac 5 from boh sides. 4x+5-5=17-5. please i want u to show this step before simplifying to 4x=12. [1] now divide both sides by...

in chem now, gr 12, i notice myself doing the same, keeping my head up, tucking my phone ino my backpack so ms woods doesn have a chance o hink im no paying aenion. i old myself los of reasons why i should: if ms woods sees ha im no paying aenion she migh feel bad and discouraged from eaching as well, creaing a worse amosphere for classmaes ha wan o learn if hey see me blaanly working on sh else, if his was prisonner's dilemma id be defecing on cooperaors, i he oxic polluor of a common resource. besides, if i lisen, i migh learn somehing i mighve no oherwise, if i really commi o rying every problem she gives a 0.5x speed. a learn habi o feel guily when i don pay aenion, im a bad misbehaving kid.

bu i noice i am bored. ive been doing a variaion of his for he pas like 2 years, or like pas 12 years bh, and empirically i don learn much. i am unsimulated and do not feel desire to do problem, bc i look at new problem and can immediately see the whole solution. he slope of ez-> hard is not steep enough.

bu by defaul, i suck i up, sare a he eacher w a smile on my face while resenmen builds up inside. by dfaul, i make my exisance more painful for no good reason. [2]

[1] wanting to make meaning out of this, i convinced myself that this helps me avoid errors. as i grew up, high school then ap physics and calculus bc, was never told when i could stop. walked into first month of physics writing out all the steps i believed necessary before i realized i wrote 2x the steps as my classmates.

(then when i wrote my first research paper, realized id appear dumb to my colleagues if i showed too many steps. assumed scientific knowledge in every paper smh)

[2] ideally id get a mcat chem book and read that during class if i find class unstimulating. maybe do problems here. and if im acually doing advanced chem then fuck everything i will jus no pay an blaanly. idk in pracice how well i can do his since noise and some pressure o keep 20% of my eye on he board o know if we move ino unfamiliar erriroyr. bu we'll see.

leave a msg for laura

i respect your emotional rawness. keep introspecting, maybe a little less inspirational quote posting...

msgs are anonymous. optionally leave ur name & discord (or other contact info) if u want me to respond