Throughout my entire educational career I’ve struggled with words.
From kindergarten to high school, I attended 12 different schools. It wasn’t for reasons most kids transfer, like parents moving to a different city for a job, but because of my learning disability: dyslexia.
According to Mayo Clinic, dyslexia “is a learning disorder that involves difficulty reading due to problems identifying speech sounds and learning how they relate to letters and words.”
For me, dyslexia causes my brain to mix, blur or even add letters to a word. This makes reading and writing extremely difficult for me, and I didn’t end up learning how to read or write until I was in fourth grade.
When my learning disorder was coupled with an inadequate American school system, it caused me to struggle — and I still do. Most of my teachers turned a blind eye as I fell far behind many of my fellow classmates.
Most of my memories of my youth weren’t very happy. They feel just as blurry as when I try to remember the correct spelling for trama, excuse me, trauma.
Some of my worst memories weren’t from students, but from the teachers. I can still see the look of disappointment and dread on their face when I didn’t understand something.
“Stupid” has always been a trigger word for me.
“What a stupid question!” I remember my third-grade teacher yelled in my face when she stopped the entire class after I asked her a question on a math assignment.
Or the day my elementary school teacher told my mother that the best thing they could do was discipline me because she didn’t think I would make it past my first year of high school.
There are many moments like these that I experienced in my elementary-school career that still haunt me to this day.
According to the Americans with Disabilities Act, as many as 80% of those with a learning disability have dyslexia. Though dyslexia is a common learning disability, I was met throughout my educational career with teachers unable to deal with it.
But despite unsupportive teachers, I continued my education.
The odds of students with learning disabilities dropping out of college is 86%, according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information.
Now, I’m a senior at Long Beach State where I work as the multimedia editor for the Daily Forty-Niner. Despite discouragement from previous teachers, I’ve accomplished unforeseen success in my educational career. Finally, I’ve made it to the point where my bachelor’s degree is in sight.
But it took a lot for me to get here.
From high school through my second year at community college, I was afraid to ask questions. This was something I brought up to my therapist three years ago when I was working on finding my college and major.
When I would think of a question or clarification on something in the lecture, my hand would begin to raise, but then I stopped myself. Images of my professor screaming in my face “what a stupid question” flashed in my mind just as my elementary school teacher did. Before it got past the point where my professor could see I was raising my hand, I’d pretend I was putting hair behind my ear or adjusting my glasses or stretching in my seat.
Therapy helped get me overcomes this self-inflicted anxiety I would face every time I had a question in class. But something else that helped me get over my fear of asking questions was my intro to journalism class.
In journalism, asking questions is what you need to do in order to understand someone or something for a story. Once you understand something within a story, you have to explain it to the readers. Since being afraid of asking questions was not an option, it helped me get out of my comfort zone and learn the art of asking questions.
Shortly after starting journalism, I quickly became the photo editor for my community college’s paper, SAC Media. After many articles and hard work, I transferred from my beloved paper to work for the Daily Forty-Niner.
But I’m still facing a problem now, even as a multimedia editor; I’m still not confident with writing.
“But aren’t you a journalist? Shouldn’t you be good with writing?” Yes, I should be better than I am, but I’ve been working on it. The article you are currently reading is me working on it and improving.
Even if this makes me nervous to write, even though I am still haunted by the memories of my childhood, I’ve somehow managed to make it here. I am here.
I didn’t get here because someone held my hand, or because someone had pity on me. I got here with hard work. Not only because I wanted to prove to those teachers I was able to do it, but because I wanted to prove it to myself.