Friday, April 25, 2008

My Ever-Evolving Self-Image: A Mathematical Perspective

The topic of this month's scientiae carnival is "our changing views of ourselves and our careers as we pass through time."

Since I am more mathematician than wordsmith, I thought I might express these changes in graphical form. The x-axis represents time, and the colored, dashed lines represent major life events that have exerted influence upon my life.

First up, the amount of change for the better I must bring to this world (or else face certain doom):
A few data points from the previous graph: {(4, President of the United States + Nobel Peace Prize), (8, Nobel Peace Prize), (12, Nobel Prize in Chemistry/Physics/Medicine), (18, Professor at top-ranked Research I University), (32, Best second-rate mathematician in the world)}.

Next, my level of self-confidence:
A few data points from this graph: {(4, I can never do anything right), (12, Junior High -- need I say more?), (23, Grad School is Hard!), (27, My family -- putting the fun in dysfunctional), (29, I made it out of grad school! I made it!), (32, I got a real job!)}.

Third, how convinced I am that I'm doing the right thing with my life:
A few data points for this graph: {(4, I'll never be able to stop being a total screw-up), (12, I have to be a violinist but I'll never make it), (16, I want to be a scientist even though my mother thinks my talents are best spent elsewhere), (21, Physics is hard!), (27, Why did I ever take my mother's opinion of what I should do in life as my own? WTF was I thinking?), (32, I am definitely in the right place.)}.


lost clown said...

All I can think is that it is wonderful to see that you are doing so well (with exceptions of jr high and grad school).

Hopefully Anonymous said...

Fascinating. I'm guessing you're using guesses from the present as to past data points (unless you were a very prescient 12 year old, and began polling yourself then).

But it might be a good project to poll yourself going forward.

I may try something like this myself. I don't have your math skills, but I think I can handle plotting on an x/y axis!

p.s. It would be fun to see how multidimensional you could get with this -things going on on the z-axis and beyon!

Anonymous said...

Wow, really cool way of looking at it.

Anonymous said...

Rebecca said...

Lost Clown and Hopefully Anonymous, the values are normalized to the present-day values. :)

Anonymous, exactly right! :)

Becca said...

Wait, so grad school does the same thing to one's self esteem as junior high?! IT ALL MAKES SENSE NOW! I know this BS!
And I thought I was the only one.
Great post.

Ms.PhD said...

becca, your comment made me laugh.

these graphs remind me of a slightly more serious demetri martin. i love his jokes.