I was in a gifted pull-out program in middle school. My teacher decided to administer an inventory to determine where each of us fell on a left-brain (analytical, math) / right-brain (creative,language) scale. Someone who was perfectly balanced (do these people exist?) would secure of score of 0. Right-brain folks would be assigned positive numbers, and left-brained, negative. Once we all had our scores, she had us line up along the board in order of our scores, leaving spaces where there were no students with the indicated number. The entire class fit alongside the front of the room, with one boy straddling the door frame of the trailer classroom. I was in the parking lot.
The rest of the class had scores within 10 points of center. I was a 32. A number which screams, “Danger! Danger! This person will not be able to function in adulthood. She will be fully consumed with creative endeavors and will have her head so high in the clouds her feet won’t touch the ground.”
So, as you would expect, I became a math teacher.
Okay, so it wasn’t really that simple. I was born with that extreme right brain and my early childhood nurtured it, as I was encouraged to participate in all sorts of deliciously creative endeavors. Once I entered school, I realized that I would have to change in order to be successful in this new environment (I also had a people-pleaser, perfectionistic streak or I probably would have stayed with the finger paints). I began to adapt. I learned how to exist in a left-brained world. The better I got at it, the more I was drawn to math (after almost failing Algebra II, I might add). It didn’t fully cement until college. The pendulum swung the other way and I fully embraced the world on the other side of that middle school line.
We are more malleable than we ever think we are. We develop mental pictures of ourselves from a very early age, formed by our experiences and our encounters. It is then so easy to live within those confines, to fully buy-in to those early mental constructs. But we don’t have to.
In order to become more malleable, it is first necessary to soften. Just as the thermostat helps the body reach that goal in hot yoga, applying warmth to your life helps to make your brain more malleable. Practice acceptance. Find support. Be still and silence the inner critic. Try to avoid the influence of the cold, as it only serves to make one more brittle. Picture yourself basking in the sun, the heat softening you and allowing you to assume any form you wish, not limited by any prior assumptions.
And, you never know, you just might become a math teacher.