I have a half written book, I titled “Fighting to Learn”. I started writing it in high school as I struggled to fit in the system and to learn the way I was expected to. As a student with an IEP (Individual Education Plan) I was given accommodations that were meant to help me be successful and some of them may have been helpful. The problem was that this IEP came with another label… dyslexia. I was labeled dyslexic and placed under the umbrella of special education. Everything I did in school felt like a fight, internally and externally. In the midst of the fighting there was one thing that I loved; I loved to write, anything from songs, poems, stories, sermons, journal entries, even essays. The problem often was if I hand wrote them you wouldn’t be able to read it between the spelling errors and the handwriting. So, I learned to type and to dictate before it was cool and I listened to audio books before Audible existed.
My labels and IEP meant that there were frequent meetings with teachers, administrators, my parents, and myself. In one such meeting my senior year of high school, the principal sat across from my mother and I and said, “She will never make it in college… she won’t be able to keep up with the demand, she won’t be able to do all the reading and writing.” A pit in my stomach grew as the tears welled up in my eyes, I had big dreams and she was crushing them. I had a choice believe her words and her understanding of my abilities or…
Challenge Accepted! I applied to 4 colleges, plus Yale for fun, never expecting to actually attend there, my SAT wasn’t high enough (slow reader problems). I received acceptance letters to all 4 schools! (Yale was a no.) I was ready to take on the challenge, to prove her wrong and to prove to myself I could do it! I wasn’t going to be defined by what I couldn’t do the way others did, I was going to perfect my way.
I learned early on that I wouldn’t be able to read the whole book, I wouldn’t be able to write lots of notes fast enough in class, I would have to find skills to compensate for my differences. It would be a fight at times.
Spoiler alert, I made it through undergrad with a double major in political science and sociology and a minor in religion, while graduating cum laude!
That principal was wrong, I could do it! Better yet, I did it again, graduating with a Master of Divinity in 3 years while working full time and raising a family.
Then something I never thought would happen… I was accepted into a doctoral program which has me writing this blog today while reading and writing more than I ever thought I could. The fight has become less about the skills and more about the internal battle of believing what others say vs. proving to myself that I am capable, even if I don’t read the whole book and words disappear off the pages, I can be a reader and a writer!
One day I might even finish writing that book I started in high school, I think the ending will be pretty awesome.