I have a learning disability. I didn’t know I had it until I went to college. In high school I would get frustrated feeling like I couldn’t do things at the same pace as my peers but just figured I needed to work harder. I managed to get by but it became a harsh reality in college. I couldn’t finish tests in time and my grades were plummeting. I was crushed, my confidence was fleeing and I felt inadequate, slow, and not cut out for this. I couldn’t keep up and was frustrated that I didn’t understand things at the same rate as my peers.
Since learning disabilities run in the family, my parents convinced me to try to get tested. Fortunately, Whitman College offers a service to have the testing done by the school. After a week of tests that made me feel even more inadequate the results were in. I had a slower processing speed and memory issues. I felt relieved and frustrated. I was relieved that I would be given more time on tests and that there was an explanation to what was happening, for once I felt like my results were not a reflection of my effort. On the other hand I felt inhibited, all of the sudden I felt like I was somehow less than everyone else, like I couldn’t match up. I was embarrassed and didn’t want to tell anyone, didn’t want people to think of me as less.
The word disabled alone, comes with a lot of stigmatization and negative connotations. To feel attached to those assumptions became a battle. The battle was not with the people around me, the few that knew were extremely supportive, the battle was with myself. Do I let myself feel defeated, or do I just continue on like I had for a majority of my life. I couldn’t just continue on, everything became more potent, the slowness, the amount of time I seemed to spend on work was double that everyone around me, I struggled to retain certain details, and felt my confidence still slipping away.
I started to notice it beyond the classroom. No matter how hard I try, no matter how much effort I put into things, the results never seem to reflect my effort and it is hard. I go through a constant cycle of working really hard to realize the results are not what I had hoped for so I work even harder to then come to the harsh conclusion that things have not changed. This leads to a breakdown and a overwhelming moment of defeat. The moment passes; I give my self a pep talk, and start all over again.
It has gotten easier and I have come to accept that things will take me twice as long as everyone else. I continue to try to convince myself that my results are not always a reflection of my effort. I have come to accept it is just part of who I am and that I might as well learn to not let it define me because there is a lot more to me and life than this.