I’ve been told I’m an outside the box thinker, but in reality I don’t think I ever really saw the box. I may have been given the outlines of a box by whoever wanted something from me, but what I engineered out of the template given to get the answer was something different entirely.
I was often told in school that I needed to show my work. It wasn’t that I was cheating, but that I could get to the answer in my head quickly with a more complex and less direct process than the one asked of me on paper – and I didn’t want to slow myself down. When asked something like 28 times 50, I’d simply multiply 30 by 50, then subtract the two additional 50s I added. I could get the answer in a fraction of a second, whereas the others would still be working it out manually on paper. It always seemed like an unnecessary waste of time, and time is the one thing you can never get back. I wasn’t inclined to waste mine unless I had to.
The thing is, my entire outlook is like that; not just the way I do math. I’ll get an answer, but it’s not the same way the average person gets it, and if I try to explain my methods people generally give me a look of confusion. It does lead to some interesting questions though, especially since I still can’t see whatever box I’m supposed to be playing in.
The problem with being outside the box though, is that when I come across a real question it’s almost impossible to get an answer. Often the avenues I think will net me an answer lead me to a bunch of people shaking their head in confusion, and when I do get an answer it tends to be one I can either disprove myself or throw up an additional question to in order to get me back to square one. That’s because almost everyone I’m asking is inside the box, and inside the box they only know the limited parameters they’ve been given. It’s hard to get them to see what I see when they’re surrounded by walls.
I’m not saying the box doesn’t help, or that it can’t be useful, but from where I’m sitting the box is the biggest lie of them all. It’s the lie that keeps you looking at the walls instead of asking the questions nobody else has. It’s the lie that keeps most of my more interesting questions unanswered.