Almost every time someone asks me what major I am, when I tell them “physics and chemistry” they are shocked, telling me how smart I must be. Occasionally making a self-deprecating joke about how they would never be able to manage hard sciences or how they were always bad at math.
I get sick of it. Not just because I hear it so much, but because it goes to show that people still honestly believe that science and mathematics are only meant for geniuses. That these are disciplines you just “get” rather than work at.
So whenever I answer that question and get no reaction I’m taken aback. Admittedly, some of it is because it fails to validate my desire to be considered smart. But it surprises me mostly because it suggests that maybe there is some shred of hope that people understand.
Understand that something like math is a field that must be worked at, much like any other. Whether it’s science or humanities. To be good at something you must work. Intellect alone can only take you so far. That being in one of these fields does not make you special.
It’s humbling. Something that physicists and mathematicians need to experience more regularly, to be perfectly honest.
These fields can be accessible to everyone, not just the intellectual elite.