Warrior Words: The number game

As human beings, we constantly feel the need to quantify our lives. The concept of time is inherently abstract and subjective to our known universe, yet for some reason 24 hours in the day made sense with the lunar patterns of our planet and its elliptical orbit. So here we are at 60 seconds to the minute, 60 minutes to the hour, 24 hours to the day and 365 days to the year, and we’ve accepted it — ignoring the radical French who tried to change the seasonal calendar for a brief second after the revolution in 1789. 

When you are in high school, life consists of a new set of numerical values that live less on the page by which they are presented, but come to live in tandem with your identity. We are branded by the numbers 2400, 36, 4.0, 5, 100, 9, and the ever-convoluted AP Physics curve, destined to establish our happiness under the terms by which these numbers exist in our society. In English class our words and arguments are siphoned into clean sentences in double-spaced, Times New Roman-font essays, awaiting an eventual letter that will eventually equate to a number, which will eventually leave you wondering exactly how a paper can differ from 92% to 93% (were those occasional flamboyant word choices really so offensive?). In the weeks following the SATs and ACTs the question of “What’d you get” is almost more ubiquitous in the Wilton High School hallways than “Do you want to go to Coffee Barn,” and when the information is shared it has been not spoken, but broadcast as students mentally begin categorizing their peers in order of intellectual competition.

We rely on these numbers as a guide as to where we should go, and what we should do with our lives. Our guidance counselors survey them for a bit and then suggest a few colleges that fall in line with our subjective numbers, we regurgitate these numbers for the next few months, then wait for joy or disappointment. If it is the latter, we take comfort in numbers, statistics mostly, splayed across the front pages of the most prestigious newspapers in the country, telling us that we are not alone and that competition is ripe and ruthless. We then work our way toward the number 05-01-2014, the day where we take a number, a sum of money in this case, and send it off to a coded college, where we will join a number of students to then begin the rest of our lives.

The need to quantify, and the ease with which one can do so in today’s day and age is highly compelling; however, I have learned in the past year that it does little to qualify. The numbers that make up my profile may have elicited a smile from my lips when I was able to share them, but they are not who I am, and not who any of us are. We are the nuance of our thoughts and the complications of our mind that are far too intricate to ever equate to any finite numeric value. A person will understand more of who I am when hearing one of my terrible Star Wars jokes, reading one of my articles or hearing me debate politics than looking at my GPA and number of AP classes. If I will take anything with me from my senior year, it will be the knowledge that although I live within the confines of years and months and days and minutes and seconds, I must challenge the confines of my own intelligence to live a life beyond the numbers.

Maddie Hoffman is a senior at Wilton High School. She shares this column with five classmates.