Today, I feel like talking about my crazy journey on brilliant. So I thought I'd share this note with everyone on Brilliant. And get ready, cuz this is a long one. Probably the most text on any brilliant post ever.
Starting from the very beginning, here is how I found Brilliant: My parents are crazy about the "no phone at the dinner table" rule. But they never complained when I did my homework at the table. So just this year, around my 15th birthday (ignore my profile age I'm not 19) because of my interest in math, I would create some hard problems and do them at the table. However, this presented two problems: A: is it even solvable (by someone with my skill or even twice as much, which at the time I thought was impossible), B. Once I solve it, how will I know if I was right?
So I decided to google "hard math problems." I found this web site talking about some genius kids that solved some unbelievably hard problems. I was wowed but skeptical, not believing that a 12 year old could solve such problems. I realized that there were some smart kids out there, but I still thought that there were maybe... I don't know, like, 1000 people smarter than me my age. Little did I know that I was missing a couple zeroes at the end of the number. I read up on the kids
At the end of the page, there was a link to join brilliant.org... and that's where my journey begins.
I remember solving my first problem, it was lvl 1 so it was quite easy, I started off doing lvl 1 and 2 Alg, Number theory, and geom problems, my favorite subjects. Then came the level three problems. I could solve about 1 out of every 20.
I solved one level 4 problem (not sure what the rating is now, but it was lvl 4 at the time). And I was ecstatic. I couldn't believe that I had solved for the remainder when was divided by 5. I added my pic to the solvers box, checked the solution... And realized that I had done the problem ENTIRELY WRONG. I had gotten the answer out of sheer dumb luck (there is a 1/5 chance of getting it anyway).
But anyway, I remember every time I clicked the "previous solvers box" I would see that triangle with a smiley face in it every time (Daniel's old profile picture). A kid a year younger than me was solving problems 5 times harder than the ones that I could solve. Out of sheer stupidity and arrogance, I thought to my self, "boy, what a nerd, he must not have a life except for a math." I didn't realize how wrong I was. He was just a normal kid like me who happened to have an unbelievable knack for solving math problems. But then there was the fat cat, the chalk board, Sauske Uchiha (not sure which one from Naruto) the cactus, the Fish, the horse, the fancy K, the bubble or galaxy (not sure).............and doge (how could I forget this one). All these savants who were younger than me or around my age but had abilities that were years beyond mine.
My self esteem plummeted. I was very, very humbled. In years past, my mathematical skills had earned me a number of awards and recognition at my school. But when I looked at all the prestigious awards on Krishna Ar's homepage, I realized just how small the awards I won were. In lower school, I thought I was so smart just because my IQ was 194 (at the time I actually thought it was something a little more like ). But I was at least realistic enough to realize that, even though I may have been the best mathematician at my school, there were at least a hundred smarter than me in the world. But now that I've joined brilliant, I've learned "how to do math" and how many smart kids are out there. Those who have been doing math outside of school since they were 3.
I, on the other hand, had only used what I had known and refused to learn from the internet. So I knew very little, but what I knew was reinforced a lot. But I wouldn't do so well on competitions such as the AMC or CML because I was slow and my ADD combined with my Dysgraphia slowed me down a lot on those.
I was never exposed to such pure intelligence until 9th grade, when I joined math team and Natsu, Gucci, and Queen Kong (math team nicknames) joined my school. They were the first people I met who were much smarter than I. Gucci knew advanced calc by the time he joined 9th grade (but he still hasn't learned alg 2, just calc. LOL). I was amazed. Then I met Makkah (another genius math team member). He was and still is one of the three smartest high school students I know IRL.
I was intimidated, and I hate being intimidated. I hate not knowing as much as others, I hate not being the best at something. I hate knowing, that when I wake up tomorrow, there will not be an article dedicated to me stating that I am not the worlds smartest person. I hate knowing that there are tens of thousands of people smarter than me out there who are all my age or younger.
So I began to learn. Since I joined brilliant 3 months ago, I have doubled my levels in each topic. I joined only knowing the math that was taught on the honors course, nothing from outside. I taught myself almost all of Alg 2 (excluding trig, I suck at that no matter how hard I try), geometry OVER 9000 times harder than what they taught in geom H (it's a Dragon Ball Z reference, here is the video), a ton of number theory theorems, and half of pre-calc.
I gained a burst of confidence when I discovered a factoring trick that no one (to my knowledge) had thought of before. It discussed how to factor polynomials with unusual coefficients (exg: large, imaginary, fractional, unfactorable, transcendental...) assuming that they shared at least one prime factor in increasing or decreasing powers (here is a link to it). I felt special, because I had an identity, I was a somebody who was distinguishable from the crowd in at least one way.
But as time went on, I became depressed, thinking that there was absolutely nothing that I could do to catch the brilliant kids out there. Knowing that I wasn't nearly as special as I thought I was sucked. if only someone had told me about all the smart minds out there and I had started earlier, I would be so much smarter.
But I didn't look at the bigger picture. While there were kids so much smarter than me, I tested in the the 99.9% percent tile on every official math scoring exam that I took. The population smarter than me was only .1% of the entire world. And now, that I'm a little smarter since I started doing "real" math, I wonder just how many people I've passed. So when I got back to school, and many of my friends were struggling with material that was a breeze for me, I realized that I should be greatful for what I have. That I was blessed and should be lucky that I am alive.
So with this in mind, I kept going, aspiring to be the next Jon Haussmann, Michael Mendrin, Calvin Lin... I have been teaching myself math as fast as I can, and Brilliant.org has really helped speed that up. I have asked tons of questions that may seem silly to many. But I was asking them simply to learn quicker. I have received nothing but knowledge by asking question after question.
My superiors have taught me so much, so I felt that it was only fair if I gave back what they gave to me by helping those who are still learning what I have been taught. When I was offered the option to become a moderator of Brilliant and improve the site to help others learn faster, I was unbelievably happy. It would help me to teach others everything that I know so that they can learn faster. So I encourage all of you to ask questions, because no matter how smart you are, you don't know everything.
All in all I would like to say thank you to everyone (everyone still reading this note who hasn't clicked out due to sheer boredom HAHA) who helped make this site, and thank you to every other brilliant mathematician out there. Just remember you are my inspiration to keep learning. It's a game of catch up, and one day, maybe, just maybe, I'll be as smart as you.