The other day my parents and I had a meeting with my math tutor. Everything was flowing well. I don’t know much about him other than he’s a math teacher in a different school district and tutors in the summer. Likewise (we’ll call him Mr.G) Mr. G isn’t too knowledgeable about who I am. Since he’s a math person he’s fairly straightforward with everything. I’ve liked Mr. G to this point because he doesn’t mix words. Unfortunately he doesn’t have much tact either.
While meeting, Mr. G thoughtfully inquired what I planned on studying in college. Now, keep in mind that we meet two hours a week for math and he hasn’t known me for more than six weeks.
“I’m going into the engineering field”, I proudly say.
Mr. G’s eyebrows raise. “I wouldn’t recommend engineering for you. There’s plenty of math involved with engineering. You need to have the skill to perform the math equations. I’d recommend that you stay away from anything that involves math or science.”
Thank you, sir, for pointing that out for me. I hadn’t figured out that engineering involves math and science! Is this what you say to your students that need a helping hand in math? “I’m sorry, but you’re not smart enough to aspire to anything that involves logic.”
“Well, I’m confident that I’ll master the math component. Nothing worthwhile is ever easy. And science comes naturally to me.” Mr. G, you barely know me.
“I was an engineer before I began teaching; the math concepts aren’t simple.” Mr. G replies.
“Those who can, do; those who can’t, teach.”~George Bernard Shaw(?)
Wow, I can’t win with you. Mr. G, if you think I’m so damn stupid then you quit being my tutor. Yes, just quit. If there truly is zero hope for my math skill (or apparently lack of) then perhaps you should stop my tutoring sessions. I’m not asking you to believe in me, all I’m asking for is to teach me.
“Umm, okay.” I manage to hold in my sigh of contempt and just leave it alone.
The funny thing about this exchange is that he isn’t the first person to point out that I shouldn’t be an engineer. One of my friend’s parents told me that only men become engineers. What the hell? Last time I checked the year wasn’t 1950. A fellow classmate (major douche but for different reasons) told me that I’d never make a living being an engineer because only noteworthy people are engineers. First of all that doesn’t make sense. If you want to be noteworthy you must stand out and do something noteworthy. People aren’t born great, they become great. And perhaps the most surprising person to tell me what I shouldn’t be came from a family member recently.
We’re sitting in my family member’s living room earlier in May:
“So, you’re going into the science field. Why would you want to do that?” Family member asked.
“Because I want to make a positive and lasting difference in the world. If I can do that with a team or by myself through engineering the world will benefit.” I say before taking a sip of freshly brewed ice tea.
“Why wouldn’t you want a normal 9-5 job? I never went to college and had a fine job that paid bills”, she responds.
Again, I hold in a sigh and an eye roll. A job is anything that you want it to be. Personally, I’d like to enjoy my job. “Nothing is accomplished when you stay normal. Have you ever heard of anyone that has earned a Nobel prize from staying normal? Of course I want a job that pays bills but I also want a job that helps others by expanding my knowledge.” (Hopefully I didn’t sound like Sheldon Cooper)
“Oh, well you must be pretty brave for seeing your dream through,” Family member says, aloof.
Brave for believing that I can change the world? Bravery (or insanity) is running for president. I desire better health care and treatments for patients through scientific breakthroughs. If I don’t follow through with that desire is a failure in my book.
Unfortunately with this track record of put downs I foresee many more people disagreeing with my career choice. And to them I say, “Just watch me; I don’t need your opinions. I’ll be done when I quit.