That’s a strange title isn’t it? I guess I should elaborate. I’m an English major, and I’m dyslexic, dysgraphic, and I have a phonetic disability which keeps me from hearing the difference between certain sounds.
Why on earth would someone do that to themselves? My answer was pretty clear. I love reading and I love writing, and I have for years. Of course it’s a little harder for me, but if I’m being honest- I never really realized it till halfway through college. I was asked to speak on a panel at a school for kids with learning disabilities and while I was doing it I had to ask myself: Am I really doing anything special here?
I don’t think I am, but people seem to, and I’m asked constantly how I’ve managed to succeed at it. I don’t know if they expect me to string off a list of tricks. I tell people that if they are really struggling, schools have learning “differences”centers. I’ve never really liked calling them differences, because they are disabilities and I don’t think we need to sugar coat it and make it sound like it’s always going to be easy. My schools center was able to get me out of taking a foreign language, which was a gift from God. But I haven’t used them for much else. They are a great source though, and you shouldn’t write them off. Please use them if you feel the need too.
But the real secret is not giving up when it gets hard. It’s learning to do things in spite of it and when that fails (which it does sometimes, and that’s okay) finding back doors. Using spell check, and when spell check can’t help- see if Google can tell you what “did you mean…?”
One of the biggest life saving things I’ve learning in college is that professors like when you interact with the class while giving presentations. While this normally means you can ask them questions, it also means that you can get to read those really long quotes from essays and books- the ones that I stutter and lose my place in while reading. The teachers love that you’re doing it and you don’t have to give them a reason why.
But learning disabilities aren’t uncommon, nor are they something to be embarrassed about. I take pride in the fact that I took this challenging route, not because I wanted to test myself, but because it meant I worked that much harder and was that much more dedicated.
Truth is I think our society likes to make things like learning disabilities into an end all be all. We see them as something to fix or if we can’t fix- shortcut our way around them. Please don’t. Please throw yourself into it so hard and know that though you might not ever rid yourself of it, you can do everything anyone else can do. It’ll be hard as hell, and I won’t say that I haven’t worked myself up about it before, but this isn’t something we should shy around. We should state it proudly than go kick it’s ass, by doing all the things we have been told we never would be able to.
There are a million and five reasons people can give you when you ask them why they failed at something. But there is normally only one when you asked them why they succeeded and it always reads along the same lines.
I decided I wanted it and I knew that I was never giving up on it. So I didn’t.
That’s it, that’s the only damn secret about it.