Friday, February 1, 2008

"I Like Math?!" and other Shocking Realizations

As much as we talk about the need to 'think outside the box', or about not wanting others to put us in a box, or to label us, or to define us by such narrow standards, the truth is that we often put ourselves into our own boxes without even realizing it. Our identities are so tied up with particular elements that their box-like status becomes invisible to us, until of course somebody exposes them for what they really are: damn hell ass boxes!

For the greater part of my life, I have put myself into various (but always cool, right?) boxes: the vegetarian box (which is of course made out of 100 % post-consumer materials and will be recycled if ever I choose to step out of it); the 'i hate to debate for the sake of debating' box, the chocoholic box, and the 'alternative' (whatever that means) box. Boxes I have religiously avoided or distanced myself from include the 'let's critically engage with the issues because we're scholars and that's what scholars do' box, the 'practicing Roman Catholic' box, and others that I will choose not to mention here, lest the sarcasm and subtle nuances of the descriptions be misinterpreted on the other end (and we don't want to give anybody a stroke now, do we?).

Anyway, one box that has never really crossed the path I identify with contains all sorts of math people: accountants, engineers, mathematicians, physicists, etc. I have many friends in said professions, but nothing about that math box ever enticed me enough to want to jump in. Despite my (totally fake) near-perfect averages in all my high school math classes, it was the subject I dropped out of my life as soon as I had the chance (bless the Faculty of Communication and Culture for that). In my mind, math and I just didn't jive. And if we ever did jive, it was because we were forced to, a la the social dance unit in junior high dance classes. In other words, math had the potential to be fun and exhilarating, but mostly it was awkward and disastrous in practice.

Getting to the point of this post (in a roundabout way), as I hinted last time, I have been feeling the blahs at my job lately. We were insanely busy for the last 4 months, and then all of a sudden everything stopped, and I was left surfing the internet for most of my days. I love surfing the net as much as anyone else, but when it comes down to it, I'd really prefer my job to be challenging, stimulating, and to keep me busy for the full 8 hours versus paying me just to sit there and be bored. Just saying.

I started looking for other work-- something different, and then I felt guilty for never being satisfied with where I am and for always keeping an eye out for something better. (I might not be a practicing Roman Catholic, but I certainly am a recovering one!) A new job was posted in my workplace, and 3 out of 5 managers asked me to please apply for it. But when I looked at the job description, at the scattered and vague job requirements, my first thought was 'I'd rather vomit'. So I kept my eyes wandering...

Yesterday, in the strange and auspicious voice of the universe, I was asked if I would consider applying for a vacant accounting assistant position in the organization, and strangely, I found myself saying yes. I SAID YES!!! This comes from the woman who swore off math like a bad habit, who dreads tax time every year (except for the refund part!), and who thought (up until a few hours ago) that numbers of all sorts were best used like a narcotic to induce a deep, coma-like sleep.

Since when are math and I best friends again... or, for that matter, at all?

How I can potentially rationalize this complete deviation from my norm:

1. I might not particularly like numbers, but I am very good at solving problems and finding patterns.
2. I have a secret crush on counting money and adding things up. (Just don't get me started on the subtraction business. Or any long division.)
3. Apparently, I am extremely good at entering in random codes and numbers at lightning speed, and having them be correct.
4. As much as I love the open-endedness and creativity of qualitative inquiry, I equally love it when there is only one right answer to any given problem. It's like the job description of accounting is to have things balance out-- each and every time, and honestly, who doesn't love balance?
5. Even if I cannot comprehend why on earth I would ever want to pursue something in accounting, I trust that when the universe practically drops a job in my lap, it's for a damn good reason. I just haven't got the foggiest idea what that reason could be yet.

The next steps (i.e. applying for the position, picking out a pair of sensible 'accounting' shoes and an equally sensible/conservative pair of glasses to wear on the job) are still in the works, so for the time being I'm still bored and surfing the internet at work. However, starting tomorrow, I have a whole week off, so I can sit back and let the universe orchestrate my next wacky adventure and you can all tune in to see it unfold when I get back!


knittinggrammy said...

As long as you like everything neat and orderly you'll be fine with the job....not much number crunching now a days, mostly on the computer (trust me on this one) - oh, and BTW, you definatley DONT NEED sensible shoes!!

Anonymous said...

Good for you for challenging your own boxes and embracing your extremely well developed "detail" skills! I feel you as much as one person can from a blog considering I desire this dream job which allows for innovation and creative 42.8 percent of the time as well as 57.2% order and right answers! Maybe I wasn't so "averse" to math as I actually got excited for my social stats class but I still know what you mean. This will add to your skills and you never know what may come of it.

You're one talented woman, dance away to your week off in your most ridiculous shoes and enjoy yourself!

Robin said...

Isn't it great when we surprise ourselves! I say go for the number-crunching job (minus the sensible shoe bit). After all, you can always reconstruct your self-constructed boxes at some later date if you find it doesn't work for you. I hope you have a wonderful week off!

Anonymous said...

Looks like we shared a couple of the same boxes! That is so awesome you're even considering getting out of your comfort zone that way. Give'er (she says from her no-math allowed communications degree box)!

Anonymous said...

so much of life is uncertain that sometimes it's comforting to have one "right" answer.

thinkingdifference said...

how about the phd box? no sense resisting it, that's where you belong! :)))