A scholarship application asked me to explain “any incongruity between your recent academic performance and your expectations or previous accomplishments”. My response:

My academic performance this year has, in a sense, disappointed me. After a very strong first year, I decided to push the envelope: more credits, harder classes. The envelope-pushing has been a great success; the results less so. The situation is exemplified by Honors Math. Once upon a time I was a trail-blazing math nerd, and Math II had come back to me pretty quickly, and so my professor and I thought I might enjoy Math for Would-Be Mathematicians. It's true that I've enjoyed it, but it's also true that for my slow, methodical brain it's been extremely time-consuming. Because of my other courses, I've never been able to give math the amount of time it requires; but because of Honors Math, I've rarely been able to give my other courses proper attention either. Thus, both have suffered — and knowing what I'm capable of in these wonderful subjects, I've suffered a bit too.

People ask why I don't drop the course, then, especially now that I'm quite sure I'll be a music major. I tell them what is required to write a proof. One must clearly define the conclusion to be reached; one must identify which assumptions are allowed and which are not; one must know which techniques are available and applicable; and then one must think carefully, deliberately, and creatively, all at the same time. Even then it's easy to bark up a wrong tree or two. In Honors Math we write several proofs every week. The discipline has made me a harder worker, a more rigorous thinker and, strangely enough, a better musician. So while I'm not thrilled with my academic performance this year, I'm very happy with my brain's adaptation. I wish I could want to drop the course — it'd certainly make life much simpler — but I love the results.