My summer is a little stressful right now. I’m working five days a week and going to a summer class the other two. The class I’m taking is college algebra which is not a class I needed for my degree so the short story is I’m taking the class “For Fun”.
But honestly that’s ridiculous. Nobody takes an algebra class “for fun”. The class I was originally going to take this summer was canceled and the algebra class was only sixty dollars more so I felt it would be an appropriate filler to avoid the summer slide. If I didn’t take something, I knew I would just have more trouble concentrating on my classwork in the fall. I pay all my classes out of pocket because I don’t qualify for financial aid and my bachelor’s degree isn’t enough to get me a “real” job.
I haven’t had a math class in eight years. I’m just a little rusty on everything math related so that’s one more reason why it should be crazy for me to be taking and paying for a class that doesn’t apply to the degree I’m currently working on.
I’m taking algebra this summer not because it’s credit for a degree, but because it’s something I needed personally. I go to a community college. One of the options is to take classes for “personal enrichment”. Unless the class requires prerequisites anybody can take any class they want just because or for “personal enrichment”. I’m taking algebra, as crazy as it sounds, for my mental health.
Two of the biggest factors in physical and mental health are obviously diet and exercise, but real life doesn’t let use shape our schedules to whatever fad diets are currently out. Sure a 20 minute morning walk sounds like a super easy health strategy- unless you work nights like I do. I don’t have time to throw together a healthy lunch to keep in the fridge because I would have to literally walk the length of a football field to get to my breakroom. It’s much easier just to grab a sandwich or soup from the corner deli. I’ve timed it perfectly so it takes me two minutes to buy my lunch and sit down to use the free wifi. Every precious minute of my break counts.
My sleep schedule is out of whack because my shift times change (but are mostly evening/nights). I eat as healthy as I can and I’m on my feet most of the day. That’s the best I can do about diet and exercise right now and that still isn’t enough. The stress is terrible and I’m tired all the time. Rather than spend even more money on medicine or a shrink I decided to use algebra as my therapist.
The point of math isn’t to learn to manipulate numbers. The point of math is to learn to solve complex problems without panicking. To solve an algebra problem you have to be in the zone, break down the problem piece by piece, and take your time. It’s not the numbers that are important; It’s getting back into the habit of problem solving. It’s been three weeks and I can already feel the results.
I feel better. I’m still physically tired, but my overall mental health feels 100% manageable. I’m not as irritable as I have been in the last few weeks and my stress levels are significantly lower because doing algebra homework feels almost like meditation. I just tune my pandora station to film scores and I’m ready to factor out some parabolas.
Once I’m done with my algebra class I signed up for a Tai Chi class to take care of the physical side of my health. Once again I’m using that “personal enrichment” excuse. It would be nice to take care of the whole package at once, but I have bills to pay and I really don’t want to work at my current job any longer than I have to.
So I tell people that I’m taking algebra this summer “just for fun” but in reality it’s just my way of taking care of myself.
But I don’t think people would believe me if I told them that.