Hannah Fry: ‘I’ve become more optimistic as I’ve gotten older’ | Math


All my life I’ve been a good two-shoes. I never received a detention. I have never broken the law. When I was 20, while everyone else was having a great time, I was at home reading math textbooks.

I inherited my work ethic. from my mom. She left school at 16 and was very insistent on education. My two sisters and I did not have the opportunity to socialize like our classmates did. We were isolated, competitive, and developed an unhealthy respect for authority.

I have cancer when I was 36 years old. It was this big moment that made me stop and think, “Stop, smell the roses, you’re supposed to enjoy it as you go.” This is my life, I can live it how I want.

It is a mistake to assume smart people do professional jobs. My dad left school when he was 14 years old. But I’ve met some really great math teachers who aren’t as smart as him. He is very quiet, he almost never gives an opinion. But he has the most brilliant engineering mind and when he speaks, everyone listens.

I feel more alive when I’m under pressure. There is something exciting about a looming deadline, knowing that you are on an unstoppable train, that you have to be good enough. And then it clicks. I find frustration, followed by euphoria, very addictive.

I am consistently and always late for everything. I strongly suspect it’s because I’m very optimistic: I think I can prepare faster than ever. It’s my worst habit.

I’m afraid of the ocean. When I was 19 I went snorkeling in Cuba and had a panic attack in the water. Since then, I have struggled to enter the sea.

Old age is a privilege That is denied to many people. She used to think 36 was really old. Then, as soon as I had cancer, I thought: 36 is too young.

Looked like I was lost at one point. My mom used to say: grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. But when I was sick, a good friend of mine gave me a keychain that simply said, “Fuck on!” That was the best advice I’ve ever been given.

The secret of being happy is to repeat to yourself: “These are the good days.” When I think back to when I was sick, I think, “My babies were little, I didn’t have to work, I could sit with them on the couch all day.” Mom and dad came and took care of me and I had special moments with them. I received letters from friends I love. Even in the darkest moments, there are things you can feel good about.

I can not anymore have children. I always wanted to have three, because I was one of three. It’s a regret, but it’s something I can’t get too upset about. I still have two beautiful girls.

As I grew up, I have become happier and more optimistic. Bad things will happen. But I believe in my resilience, in the resilience of the people I love and in humanity in general. I think there is this irrepressible determination of humanity to overcome. The pandemic is a good example of this. No matter how bad things get, we adapt.

The Future With Hannah Fry is available to watch on www.bloomberg.com and the Bloomberg app

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