Don’t be afraid of simplicity

Kelly Smith

Have you ever had a problem that you expected to have a very complicated solution only to find out it wasn’t as complex as you thought it was? Maybe you spent too much time trying to think of the perfect topic to write about in an essay. Or maybe you overreacted to changes in your body during your adolescence that you later found out were just a part of growing up. I know I like to complicate things way too much sometimes. But the thing is not everything has to be complicated. Sometimes, the best and only way to understand something that is complicated is to start on a much more simply level.

Think of it like this: I was once told that in order to understand calculus, you must first understand simple algebra. This makes sense, because algebraic equations and functions serve as important building blocks of the much harder work found in calculus. If you were to try and jump straight into calculus without knowing simple algebra, you won’t get anywhere good very quickly, would you? In fact, someone completely new to math wouldn’t even get algebra unless they first know how to add, subtract, multiply and divide.

I believe this logic applies to many other scenarios in life. As I mentioned, I have the tendency to jump to some crazy solutions about life sometimes. For instance, I recently had some car issues that, after doing some simple Googling, led me to initially believe that I had a faulty fuel pump. If you were to research how expensive it usually is to replace a fuel pump, you’ll find that it’s not really a cheap number. Fortunately, I was told by a mechanic that is was just a flex pipe on my exhaust system that needed replacing, a much less expensive price to pay.

Everyone’s had to write a paper or create a big project before. I always love the open-ended projects where you have the freedom to choose your topic. A common problem is when you start reading the requirements of what to include before you even pick a topic, which can be very overwhelming and make the project feel like a mountain to climb. 

In one of my SWS courses, I proposed a rather broad topic that my professor suggested a narrow down because I’m only writing an essay, not a book. We all want to create something that we can be proud of, but there needs to be a good starting point: what am I going to talk/write about? It may be the obvious first step, but I find it’s still something that’s easy to skip past when we start looking at the complexity of the assignment.

Bottom line: not everything in life is as complicated as it may seem at times. Even in the most complex of circumstances, it’s always a good idea to start simple and go from there to make sure you are working on a solid foundation and staying on the right track, because it will do you no good in the long run if you like jumping to the unlikely and harder-to-manage solutions.