Should I pursue a career in mathematics/physics? How?

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  • Thread starter Lord Satin
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In summary: I don't really know how to finish that sentence.In summary, the teenager is in need of guidance in various areas of his life, and is generally dissatisfied with his progress. He is intelligent but not a prodigy, has difficulties with more complex algebra and physics, but is extremely good at trigonometry. He is interested in philosophy and writing, and might be able to be a good teacher. He is a slob who does not have much motivation and is not very disciplined. He is interested in teaching at a university one day.
  • #1
Lord Satin
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First of all, I just joined the forum! I might not be much of a contribution, but I can try! So, to the point!

You see, I am in serious need of guidance here. I ran into something of a brick wall. I'll be in my first year of high school next year (engineering-focused, it was my second choice, and I really messed up the admission exams), and I'm not exactly happy with my recent progress. I'm 15 by the way. Not sure if it matters though.

I've never been great at mathematics. Sure, never been bad, never really slowed down significantly. I had some problems with more complex algebra, and still do right now, but if I refresh my memory, I'm sure I can manage to solve an equation or two. I'm definitely not a prodigy. Not even close. Usually got A's, but because of my lack of determination and only recent discovery of my passion for natural sciences, I did let my grade slip a couple of times. I've got an IQ of 125. That's what I got six months ago. First time I measured it. Pretty miserable, but it could be worse.

So already we've established that I am not a genius by any means. That was slightly disappointing (as intellect was the only thing I really had, or thought I had). But! These past few months were cool. Quadratic equations are fun, and so is geometry. Trigonometry is simply indescribably amazing. I love every bit of it. Solving problems with it is just such a lovely change of pace from the constant and boring word problems in algebra. I am, without doubt, the best in trigonometry in my class, but as to everything else...? Ehh, not so much...

Physics! Well, physics is really cool in my opinion! Don't really know anyone who shares my interests, so I study alone, or I try. I'm really into quantum mechanics and general relativity, probably because I cannot comprehend them for the life of me! It's this sort of masochism, where I push myself to read Hawking's books, even though I don't really understand a word of it. Special relativity was alright. I sort of explained the whole thing to myself, not sure if I did it accurately, but I sort of understand. Oh but QM is terrible! It's like a mythological beast! Cut off one head, and it grows two more! The books lose me on interference. Principle of Uncertainty is about all I can "understand".

I suppose I could be a bit like Brandon Stark, if you know what I mean. Shooting a bow and missing every time, more experienced mates laughing in my general direction, and my father asking which one was a marksman at twelve? Well, sure, fifteen, twelve, there's a difference. Principle is the same. Maybe I'm aiming too high for now (pun intended).

I'd say my lack of understanding in those topics is irrelevant, as I haven't done calculus yet, but no matter. I'm also trash at chess. God, I can't play that game at all. Maybe because I've been diagnosed with ADHD (I don't believe the diagnosis, however), and can't keep my attention on the game, not sure. I used to enjoy video games, lost patience. Play one for 20 minutes and forget about it. As a result, been going through severe boredom (waiting for No Man's Sky to come out).

I enjoy philosophy. I know that's a part of physics and mathematics, so maybe that's a plus? I also enjoy writing, and I'd say I could be fairly good at writing articles. Fairly. For an amateur writer, at least. I know what people want, in terms of articles. How? Because I am like most people. I am very average. Only unlike most average people, I am self-aware about my non-uniqueness, and am capable of utilizing it. I suppose that in itself makes me unique. I think I just made a paradox! But it really is just a variation of the liar's paradox, isn't it?

I can't say I'm a very good or disciplined student. I've never been forced to study, never needed to. I know I should. And I try. I know that's a huge part of the journey. But I won't lie to myself. I'm a slob. A total slob without any motivation to do anything.

I'd really like to teach at a university one day. I know, I know. You need to be super intelligent to do that. But you know what? I spit on IQ. I bet if I took the test now, I could score anything I wanted (well, no, but I believe I might be able to score in the 130's). Memorized the patterns of the questions. It holds no weight for me. Well, that's a lie. It is a bit discouraging. But hey! I don't choose my path because it's easy, but because it's hard, just as the United States did when attempting to land the first man on the surface of the Moon!

So. I know you can't accurately answer my question, because you don't know me in person and how I perform in different fields and tasks. But still! If anyone could, well, recommend anything, I'd be glad. If anyone was like me, and achieved success anyway, I'd probably find motivation to do stuff again.

Sorry 'bout the long post. Sorry if it seems like I'm venting or something, it's really a sincere question of mine. Wouldn't want to waste years studying something I'll never be good at, eh?

Sorry for grammatical errors. Foreigner.

Thanks lads!

EDIT: Yes, yes, I'm ashamed of my diagnosis. I'm a cripple. At least an intellectual cripple. Is that politically correct to say? Don't care, I'm referring to myself, so I'm not hurting anyone. I wish I didn't have ADHD (like I said, I think it's an over-diagnosed heap of nonsense), because it is, again, a severely discouraging factor.

Any physicists or mathematicians with that? I hope so... Otherwise I'll develop an addiction to Xanax.

Edit: Sorry for editing the title. This one feels better.
 
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  • #2
Welcome to the forum! Pursue what you are passionate about. IQ tests are pretty useless. Dont get hung up on that.

Anyways, what matters is that you enjoy math/physics. Work hard and study hard. Keep working at it until things line up for you. Dont take your circumstances as a "oh well that's what i get". But more like "ill work so hard at what i like that eventually ill be in a better position to accomplish what i really want."

How bad do you want it, is not the question.. its "how much work will you actually put into it?
 
  • #3
Suppose you have a point! Grit and determination plays a huge role in this journey! But still, it wouldn't hurt to have more abstract and logical thinking... Maybe I'm just not concentrated enough.
 
  • #4
Lord Satin said:
I can't say I'm a very good or disciplined student. I've never been forced to study, never needed to. I know I should. And I try. I know that's a huge part of the journey. But I won't lie to myself. I'm a slob. A total slob without any motivation to do anything.
I'm not sure why you're focused on IQ. Discipline and work ethic are what will determine what you can achieve. The only advice I can give you is to find some motivation and develop some study skills. That is what will determine your success during your university studies.
 
  • #5
IQ is irrelevant. I have a measured, official IQ of 96 and I'm a researcher in pure mathematics. Does that mean anything? It means that it's not impossible to get into science with a low IQ.

IQ means exactly what you want it to mean. You want to give a lot of weight to it, then you will end up miserable because you can't do what you plan to do. Stop comparing yourself to meaningless numbers that try to describe the complexity of human intelligence. Stop comparing yourself to others. All you should do is try to work hard and have fun with the material.
 
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  • #6
Another forum member said (paraphrasing): "Many mathematics graduates have come to grief upon realizing, after being told all their life they're good at math, that they're not at all good at math. They're good at following instructions."
 
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  • #7
You know, you all make a point I seem to forget about. Having fun. I'd say a part of the reason why I'm so good at trigonometry is the fact that I enjoy it. It's odd. People tell you about hard work and stress, but they seemingly forget about the significance of having fun while learning! Truly a realization that I will take into consideration. Can't say I'll be successful just because I find pre-calculus and trigonometry fun, but now I know that a solid, strong, fun attempt full of motivation is not out of my grasp as I first believed.

@David Lewis

Brilliant quote. It's another thing people seem to forget. Mathematics, or at least the stuff in primary and high school, is all about following a certain preset formula. Nothing more. That seems to mostly be it, following instructions. I was never very good at that. I dare not say that not being good at following instructions makes me good at mathematics, not at all, but I must say that finding my own ways and solutions is always much more fulfilling, fun, and satisfying.

Thank you all! This really cleared my mind a bit. IQ can go drown itself.
 

Related to Should I pursue a career in mathematics/physics? How?

1. Should I pursue a career in mathematics or physics?

This is a common question for students who have a strong interest and aptitude in both mathematics and physics. The answer ultimately depends on your personal interests and career goals. If you enjoy solving complex problems and have a curiosity for how the world works, then a career in mathematics or physics may be a good fit for you.

2. How do I decide between mathematics and physics?

Both mathematics and physics offer exciting and challenging career paths. To decide between the two, consider your strengths and interests. If you excel in abstract thinking and problem-solving, mathematics may be a better fit. If you are fascinated by the laws and principles that govern the physical world, then physics may be the right choice for you.

3. What are the job opportunities in mathematics and physics?

There are a variety of job opportunities in both mathematics and physics. Graduates with a degree in mathematics can pursue careers in fields such as data analysis, finance, and cryptography. Physics graduates can work in industries such as engineering, research and development, and education. Both fields also offer opportunities for advanced degrees and research.

4. What skills do I need to succeed in a career in mathematics or physics?

To succeed in a career in mathematics or physics, it is important to have strong analytical and problem-solving skills. Attention to detail, critical thinking, and a strong foundation in mathematical and scientific principles are also essential. Additionally, good communication skills and the ability to work well in a team are important for collaborating on complex projects.

5. How do I prepare for a career in mathematics or physics?

To prepare for a career in mathematics or physics, it is important to excel in math and science courses in high school. This will lay a strong foundation for your college studies. Additionally, participating in extracurricular activities such as math or science clubs and engaging in independent research projects can help you develop your skills and explore your interests. It is also beneficial to seek out internships or volunteer opportunities in related fields to gain hands-on experience.

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