I often talk about liking math, but what is more true is that math keeps me energized and excited to keep pursuing it. And I think part of the reason for that is that, with math I have a genuine fear of failure.
I was sitting in my calculus class last night feeling a familiar mixture of slight despair and worry over the material. It's not that it's hard, exactly. It just suggests that horrible things are coming down the pike, for which I will need the slightly scary stuff I'm working on right now. Am I smart enough for this class?
I mean, yes, I am. I must be. I am almost certainly above average in my class, likely in the top quarter. If most people are going to pass this class then I can do well in it.
That's what logic tells me, but it's not how I feel.
If I were taking a 400-level English class, there would be no doubt in my mind that if I put in a reasonable amount of effort, I would absolutely kill it. Ditto History, or any other subject that relies on knowledge, reading, and the manipulation of ideas. And I think that feeling of certainty - the very strong linkage between work and outcome - tends to make me a bit lax and uninterested.
Obviously I am also unmotivated by feeling that no effort of mine can make a difference. Set me at the start of a marathon and you won't see me trying. But I think the thrill and fear of not knowing whether I can do math (whatever math is before me) keeps me going, keeps me trying, keeps me signing up for more courses.
This explains why I'm majoring in something that isn't, honestly, a great strength for me.