A hate letter to Math 51

April 9, 2019, 1:00 a.m.

I’m sorry. It’s not me. It’s you. To put it simply, you weren’t it, chief. Math 51, my dear beloved, you hurt beyond what years of therapy can fathom. I wanted to love you, I really did, but now I find myself writing this letter to you. As I relive the trauma that was winter quarter, I find myself struggling to put pen to paper — not because I don’t know why I hate you so much, but because there are so many reasons that I don’t know where to start.

So where do I begin?

From the very beginning, you were deceitful in our relationship. Our initial introduction to vectors and dot products gave me a horrible impression of what the class actually entailed. You appeared beautiful during the shopping period and you catfished me. I severely underestimated the amount of work that this class would entail. The course description also fooled me into thinking that any of my previous calculus experience would help me thrive in this course. You threw me from the offensive into the defensive. It was you who gave me doubts, who gaslit me in such a way where I started feeling as if I didn’t belong. Everyone else finished the problem sets rather quickly. Why was I still up at 3 a.m. trying to solve our problems? My dearest, you had me scratching my head when everyone else seemed to be pulling perfect scores on their problem sets.

Don’t even get me started on those midterms. You gave me hope, my dear. You teased me with your practice exams, making me believe that our relationship could actually work out — and for a second, I believed. We danced through the practice exams and even during the actual midterms, I felt like we didn’t do such a bad job. The grades you gave me didn’t seem to reflect that, but I didn’t mind, because I was in love with you. I felt that as long as I saw growth and generally felt like I was learning, I’d be happy with you at the end of the day. But you had other plans. My scores only seemed to be going down at a time when everyone was out and about rejoicing in the sun. Every lecture began to seem like a foreign language class, but you were no 9:30 am.

The final blow was that cumulative exam. You found a way to identify all my insecurities, neatly packaged as a “final exam” and strike me befuddled. It was then, as I struggled to complete a simple power of matrices, that I realized our relationship was toxic. I knew then and there, as I failed to remember the “magic rule,” that our love was not some fairytale, but the type of recurring nightmare that deeply disturbs you. For that reason, I write you this letter. You might have been redesigned recently, but it appears that you’re still the same person every upperclassman warned me about. The worst part is that I genuinely wanted to love you. I’ve always loved math, and I dared to try to prove to everyone that you wouldn’t be the exception. You proved me wrong, but you’re not going to stop me from loving again.

As Ariana Grande so eloquently penned this emotion I’m feeling, “Thank u, next.”

With love (although not really),


Contact Richard Coca at richcoca ‘at’ stanford.edu.

Richard Coca '22 has previously served as editor of The Grind for volume 258, managing editor of Satire in vol. 257, and CLIP Co-chair in vol. 255. He is majoring in Human Biology and minoring in Anthropology. Contact him at rcoca 'at' stanforddaily.com.

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