The Numbers Game

How do you feel about maths? If you’ve just broken out in a cold sweat, welcome to my world. Numbers have never been my friend and I’ve now accepted that they never will. It’s as if my brain is wired to treat them as a threat – should any wander innocently into my head it will attack them and turn them into mush. 

It’s often the way with creative types who see the world in words and colour so I know I’m not alone, but I’m still jealous of people who can do sums in their head (in their head! With no calculator!). Even if someone asks me to add up a very simple sum I freeze and panic. 

When I went to a university summer school a few years ago we all gathered in the lecture theatre and the professor of psychology welcomed everyone and outlined the plan for the first day. Turns out we were all going to introduce ourselves and then do some quick mental arithmetic and add it to the board at the front.

Well. Eyes widened. Hearts raced. And some (me) even began to reach for their coats. But she laughed soon enough and explained that some of her research also involves ‘maths anxiety’ (she gets to wire candidates up to monitor their physical reactions to doing equations). This summer school was not going to involve such things (thank heavens) so we gratefully moved on.

Numbers. I don’t like them. But this might be a good thing. Since stepping into the limelight last year I’ve purposely not looked (too hard) at viewing figures or levels of engagement. How many people are reading blog posts, engaging with the newsletter, liking Twitter posts? It’s exhausting to monitor such things – the numbers go up and down and my fragile ego likewise. Ignorance is sometimes bliss.

And more than that, it’s an acknowledgment that small is not necessarily worse than big in this game. Small numbers are cool. Just one person who laughed at a tweet or was moved by a story – that’s the sweet spot. Real connection is where it’s at. 

One plus one equals? Lots of happy readers and one happy writer.