Story 1: Growing Up with Dyslexia
A secret I’ve never told anyone until now
Based on a true story
If you’ve met me in person, I might strike you as someone who is an honest person. In a broader spectrum, I suppose that’s true. Come to think about it, I always feel better when I tell the truth, even when I’m scared of what people might think about me. Having said that, that’s what I would like to speak with you about and why I’m sitting down to type up this letter. I’ve got a secret I want to share with you, one that I’ve been embarrassed to talk about for a really long time. In fact, today marks the first day of a new chapter in my life. Why? Well, I’m going to tell you something I haven’t even told any of my closest friends.
Now, before I spill the beans about myself, I should probably briefly explain why I’m doing this. The most obvious reason is: I want to raise awareness. Maybe you know someone who is going through a similar situation but they are too afraid to talk about it and maybe I can be a source of comfort. The other reason is: I want people to know who I really am. I’m learning now that I can’t build a strong community if I don’t open up about my own life. Bear in mind, I’m a fairly private person. I don’t easily volunteer information like this about myself unless someone asks me. In fact, I’ve never been this transparent with anyone and I have to admit, it’s a bit nerve-wracking. But, here goes. I am dyslexic.
I rarely hear people say that they regret elementary school. I truly wish I was a part of that crowd. For me, elementary school was like a dark cloud hanging over my head. Unlike my classmates around me, my academic career started off a tad bit rocky. For instance, no one understood the pain I felt when I was held back in second grade because my teacher said I wasn’t performing properly. Talking with Jason, a boy in my class who I talked to everyday to get some relief, is how I got my reputation for being too talkative. I was labeled a lot of things by my teachers, unfortunately “most likely to succeed” wasn’t one of them.
I guess a few of them thought there wasn’t a whole lot they could do for a child who was dyslexic. What did that mean for me? I was placed in a small room called the resource room which made it extremely difficult for me to identify my strengths. This was only the beginning; little did I know this path would pave the way to having gaps in my education.
By the time I got to middle school I had already become accustomed to the typical classroom modification and accommodation of special education in public school. In other words, I was used to getting modified assignments and extra time on my test. I admit, I got somewhat complacent. And that’s when it all changed.
My first day of middle school, I was told my classes would be isolated from the other students. Largely because I had Special Ed classes and they didn’t. My stomach cringed when I heard this news. This meant I would spend less time with my friends, “the normal kids”, and more time feeling “abnormal”. I didn’t see my friends in school except between classes. Passing period was the worst. I loathed having to explain to others why I had a class in the Special ED building. Talk about a psychological bridge to overcome. Nobody walks away from something like that without a mental bruise.
I discovered sports in high school. Sports saved my life in a sense. Not only did it keep me preoccupied and out of trouble, but it was also a place I could go and hang out with my buddies whom I never saw during school. Truth is, I never liked sports much… until I realized what power it had. Sports offered me an outlet to channel my anger and frustration. You know what else I liked about playing sports? It gave me an opportunity to prove I was normal and not an idiot like some people might have thought I was.
I loved playing sports. The only downside was not remembering the playbook. I didn’t think my learning disability would affect my basketball skills, but it did. As a result, I spent a good amount of time on the sidelines watching my fellow teammates get action. My coach thought I lacked focus and concentration. I can’t say I disagree. I only wish I had more control over it. Regardless, I felt utterly hopeless. Dyslexia was killing the last bit of confidence and potential I had and there was nothing I could do about it.
Despite sitting out most of my high school basketball career on the bench, I was good enough to earn a full-ride athletic scholarship. I readily admit, if it weren’t for sports, I wouldn’t have gone to college. As soon as I arrived to college, I did what many students who have dyslexia do after finishing high school: I went to college without seeking out help. This also explains why I bounced around, college-to-college and why it took me eight years to earn my degree. It wasn’t until my senior year of college that I began to realize that I had gaps in my education. For years, I struggled in college and now I know why: people around me always knew basic things I didn’t know, information they said I should have learned in grade school.
Looking back, I realize that my commitment to earning a college degree grew from my mother’s desires and of me needing to prove the doubters wrong. I know this much is true, because I had a one track mind only to finish college and I never stopped to ask myself what I would do for a career after I graduated.
The power of keeping an open mind
Truth is, life doesn’t play by the rules. Sometimes in life you get dealt a bad hand. Life doesn’t care what you’ve been through, nor does it care what disability you have. Sure, you can blame your parents and teachers or anyone else you think blocked your success, but what good will that do you? You’re totally removed from reality if you think it will make life easier. Instead, you need to change your situation on your own terms. You do that by keeping an open mind and by turning your curse into a crusade. Plain and simple. And that’s really what the premise of my blog is about. In this blog I will talk about turning your curse into a crusade and finding your true passion and purpose in life. We all have disabilities in life. For some people, their disability is fear or money. For others, dyslexia. If you’re a slight bit curious on finding your true passion and purpose in life, then you should look out for my upcoming posts.
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I have to admit; I feel like a huge weight has been lifted off my chest. I hope I’ll encourage someone to do the same. Please leave your comments below… I love hearing from those who have encountered the same struggles and share the same passion as I do. If anyone has any questions for me, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
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