|I've been pretty good at math my whole life. As an adult I found all my old school records, and even the standardized tests from first grade said I was in the 99th percentile for math (and in the 70s for reading comprehension; still an issue to this day).
The thing is though, math never felt easy for me. I put just as much work and struggle and frustration into it as all my classmates, but it seemed to work out for me better than for them. I don't know why that is.
I do think a certain amount of it is innate, and I did nothing to deserve or earn that. But by saying an ability is simply a product of birth, it negates the time and effort and confusion and failure I've invested in it.
But at the same time, claiming an achievement came from time and effort also negates the lack of success experienced by people who did the same things as me.
A recent TED Radio Hour episode was about math, and I particularly related to the part by mathematician Dan Finkel who said that math is all about being ok with being stuck. That essentially describes my entire job and all the education that led up to it. I don't particularly like the feeling of being stuck; I don't seek it out and relish it when I find it. I tolerate it. And then I make some progress. And that's apparently why I'm good at math. #math