Making the answer work

I just finished taking college algebra, a class two classes above the one that I had mixed success with the first try at college.

And on a lot of the questions, the answers were in the back of the book.

But, there’s a point in a complicated problem… where the only help having the answer is, is that it tells you that you aren’t on the right path.

This helps a tiny bit, but really, not much. You still have no idea how to get to the right way to work the problem. You basically end up with trial an error, scribbling and erasing any number of methods, until you finally get something that gets you to the right answer that you already know is the right answer.

In a lot of cases, I know what my problem is.

I know the answers to most of my problems. Mostly things like “have faith” and “trust God”.

I just don’t know how to get between the two.

But sometimes more frustrating than the problem itself, is the failed attempts at finding a useful tutor for that problem… be it a person, a book, or a therapist.

A lot of them want to just keep telling you the answer. And telling you the answer again. And telling you the answer phrased differently. As if you don’t already know the answer in most cases, and as if knowing that the answer is 52 fixes the fact that your mess of numbers is coming up with 4,538.27 instead. Even though you already agree that the answer is 52, and never even pretended your answer was right, still… they just keep trying to drive home the point that you need to get 52.

Or the reverse, to just keep telling you what you are doing is wrong. As if you can’t already guess that… I mean, if it were working out right, would you be wasting your time still messing with this? You already know you don’t have 52, you just have no idea how to fix that. Apparently neither do they, or if they do, they aren’t sharing it.

Or the classic reminder that you need to do your own homework, and shouldn’t be having other people do your tests for you. As if you had any idea what you were doing to be able to do it, or hadn’t already given it an extended attempt trying to work it out in a hundred different ways. No matter how much you point out that your weren’t asking for them to do it, you were just asking for a hint on where to start, this one just isn’t listening to the question or just doesn’t want to bother with explaining it.

But my favorite is always the ones who decide that the best way to help you with this huge complicated problem is to start explaining to you how to add 5 plus 2 and get 7. Or, in occasional bad cases, how to add 5 plus 2 and get 4. It doesn’t matter to them that you know how to multiply and divide already and that all you need is help knowing when to do them to which numbers. You asked for math help, and they are going to help you with your college algebra problem by teaching you preschool numbers over again, and act like you are ungrateful if you try to point out that you are past that point in the process.

But somewhere… somewhere… lost like a needle in a haystack, is the person/book/verse/lesson of reason.

The one who actually is not only familiar with this sort of problem, but also has an idea as to how to make it work out.

The one who can make a simple comment, telling you to square everything and the square root thingy will be cancelled out. And suddenly, with just that quick offhand suggestion, the numbers cooperate and as if by magic all of the mess stops. And by continuing on with the same steps you’ve been trying, suddenly you get results that take you where you needed to be as if it were the easiest thing in the world.

I’ve really got to find a way to steamline the process of finding that tutor.

Because I’m really good at finding the ones who just keep telling me to read my Bible and pray, as if I would have never thought to try that.
And the ones that just keep telling me that God is the solution, with no real help in how to get there from here.
And the ones that tell me again how big my mess is.
And the ones who tell me I need to just work it out.

And unfortunately… to someone like me with a mile-wide independent streak… the annoyance of being desperate enough to be resorting to asking for help, and still finding nothing useful, can be about as frustrating as the problem itself, and all the more reason not to even try looking the next time I’m hopelessly stuck.

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