Growing up, my life was filled with numbers. My dad had always been interested in mathematics, and we were constantly engaged in math-related activities, whether it be calculating the cost per ounce of almonds at the supermarket or observing license plates to see if they were divisible by three. But too soon, numbers began to play a more important role in my life – for the better or for the worse.
Slowly, we received grades. At first, they were simply letter grades; S for satisfactory, U for unsatisfactory and N for needs improvement. But as we progressed into second grade, those letters transformed into numbers; a 100 replaced S, an 80 replaced U and a 70 replaced N. As I entered high school, I learned about something called GPA. This new phenomenon was measured not on a scale from 0 to 100. Rather, it was measured from zero to four (unweighted, that is). And, of course, numbers also dominated the standardized test spectrum – how many AP courses to take, what your scores on the said AP course exams were, what your SAT score was, what your ACT score was or what percentile your PSAT score fell in.
Of course, numbers don't just define academics. Back in my elementary school days, we compared the number of friends we had on the playground. Whoever had the most was the most popular. As time progressed, I started to pay more attention to my health, like how many calories and grams of carbohydrates I ate daily. I paid more attention to my weight. My Snapchat score and the number of Instagram followers, likes and Facebook friends I had began to matter. I also started to realize the importance of money and how to save (or spend) it wisely (or unwisely).
I am not done with numbers. Not by far. As I grow older, more numbers will be present in my life. Social security digits, salary, bills, taxes, insurance – who knows what other numbers will haunt me through my journey in life?
However, this is not a list of all the potential numbers you will face in life. Rather, this is a reminder to tell you that numbers shouldn't and don't define your life. Despite their important role, they are merely a side path to life. They may cause stress and discomfort but in the end, it's not the numbers that define you – it's what you do in life and whether or not you made a difference in the world.