I was six when I was told by a teacher that I wasn’t allowed to use negative numbers in class, because we weren’t studying them yet.

I was nine when I brought home my first bad progress report ever: failing grades in math and science.

I was 13 when my pre-algebra teacher told my parents, “Katie just isn’t a math kind of person.”

I was 14 when I was kicked out of the honors math track in school.

I was 16 when I was kicked out of the not-honors-but-still-probably-going-to-college math track, and failed both biology and chemistry.

I was 17 when I failed physics, partially because I hadn’t ever taken trig.

I was 18 when I scored a 1410 on my SATs anyway. I had to learn most of the math on my own.

I was 19 when my highest grade my first semester of college was in astronomy.

I was 20 when I took symbolic logic, and ended up becoming a tutor for the class.

I was 21 when I dropped out of college and moved to New Mexico, disillusioned by the social sciences specifically and academia in general.

I was 22 when I found a textbook for homeschoolers and worked until I understood fractions at last.

I was 23 when I took statistics and blew the curve completely out of the water.

I was 24 when I gave away nearly all my belongings and moved to Malawi and “studied” what it means to be a citizen of the world.

I was 26 when I started massage therapy school and started acing the heck out of my anatomy courses.

I was 27 when I started developing study advice for other students taking these same classes.

I’ll be 28 soon, and the people around me keep asking me why I don’t have a degree or a career in science. I never know what to say.