You’re going to ask: how did she do it?

I was never good at math. That is the secret I kept to myself. I was an imposter. There is no mistake about that.

But I was determined. The basis of my trajectory was already laid out for me. I didn’t want to do it. I dropped out of school many times. But I also kept returning. Every time I went back, one bad habit after another faded away until there was no trace of self-destruction left.

My conditions weren’t ideal. And there was no singular attempt or one school or anything. I traveled a lot. I couldn’t stay in one place, ever. So I met a lot of people, and I opened myself up to the possibility that maybe it didn’t matter if I was good at math or not.

It haunted me. Manic depression left untreated would have me trespassing the rooms of Fine Hall and sleeping on the streets of Newark. It didn’t matter. I didn’t have a choice.

So, instead of fighting it, I embraced it. I embraced all that my mind was screaming in my sleep.

It wasn’t easy. I didn’t have a home. I would conspicuously find places to sleep, and in the late hours of the night, you could find me in a math department somewhere… anywhere that would accept me.

For a while, I didn’t get accepted, and so I made a home for myself in the books I read. My inability to sit still permeated all facets of my existence: I read book after book after book, building up a collection of ideas and off-the-wall theories about what to do.

I’m no genius. I wanted to be. It didn’t come easy. But I had this drive. This force inside of me made me keep going. Endless evictions, arrests, breakups, suicide attempts, hospitalizations, loneliness, mania…

You can read it. You can see the times when there was a disconnect. But I couldn’t stop. I was determined.

Exhaustion would be a better word, but I’ll save that for another lecture.