Monday, September 4, 2017

How to be More Courageous

 This week I was assigned to give a speech about something that I learned from in my life.  I chose to speak about my story through Dyslexia. There was an undeniable power that filled the room as I spoke. Many of my classmates shed audible tears as I concluded my speech.

What made it strike the hearts of my pears with such force? I spoke in a way that allowed my audience to feel the story as I told it. It was absolutely amazing to see the impact that a few simple words for four and half minutes could have on my peers.

So what did that speech say? Let's dive into it:

To say that I am nervous would be an understatement. I have endured multiple drafts and rehearsals before standing here today.

My 8th grade year I was struggling in English, no one knew why. I was a diligent student. I always did my homework and turned it in on time. Still, I struggled.

My English teacher said "It isn't fair for you to have to suffer like this. You put in a lot more work than many of your fellow students do for the same letter grade."

He dared to fight to get me help in school. I will never forget the selfless service he gave to me, he was simply a friend no matter what. It didn't matter if he was busy grading papers or had a lot to do. He always left his door open to me. He encouraged me time and time again when I felt stuck, lost, and alone. This teacher taught me some the most important life lessons that I carried through high school.

When I got to High School they refused the help that this teacher had set up for me. I was left to go through school alone.

My Junior Year I was faced with near failing grades again. I didn't know what to do, I had tried everything. However, I finally found testing to find out what my learning problems where related to. I was diagnosed with Dyslexia and ADHD. At this time in my life I didn't think that my diagnosis was the best thing that had ever happened. I looked down on myself because of it.

I became very depressed and even suicidal during this time in my life. I wanted the pain to end and I wanted to return to heaven on my own terms. The pain reached deep within me. I have a disorder that will never go away in this life. Every day I am reminded that I live with a disability, every day I have to chose to face this trail in courage or to face it with fear.

(Insert Pause: I realized that half the class was letting out a few tears at this point, I myself felt a couple escape my eyes and I had to wipe them away to continue to see my notes.)

I remember submitting my diagnosis paperwork to the school. A week later I revived an orange slip requesting that I went to see our principal. I was terrified. I hadn't done anything wrong, why would he want to see me? Now, you should know that my principal was rather large and he was much taller than me. He was pretty intimidating when you stood in front of him. I endured him yelling at me over wanting something for nothing for an hour. He didn't understand that I was drowning in school. He didn't understand that I was so devoted to school that I gave up time with my family in order to complete assignments. He told me "Our program is to make failing students average, your already average, we can't help you."

I remember leaving his office with ANGRY tears running down my face. Who was he to tell me I couldn't graduate? Who was he to tell me that I wouldn't be cut out for collage?

As time went on, I found help and medications despite being terrified of the stigma. I spent months researching tools and assisting technology that was available. I spend a couple of years in tutoring, it was incredibly embarrassing to tell my friends that I couldn't hang out with them because I was stuck with a tutor. I had to learn how to learn with my disabilities.

From this experience, as deep as the pain cut into me, I learned a lot of valuable life lessons. I learned how to be my own advocate for my disabilities. I learned that if I wanted anything to change that I would have to stand up on my own two feet and talk one on one with my teachers. Communication has become vital to my academic success. Eventually, with the combination of therapy, medications, tutoring and the support of my teachers my grades improved.  For the first time in my life school wasn't a burden to me anymore, but the doors of understanding where opened to me. My parents got me a digital reading pen that allows me to read exponentially faster than ever before. Now, here at BYU - Idaho there are so many more resources available to me than ever before in my academic carer.

So, YES, I am Dyslexic, I have a Learning Disability, BUT ...

It does NOT mean I am a misfit.

It means I am a fighter who dared to break the sound of silence!

(End of Speech)

I love that this message highlights the beauty that has come from my challenges in school. I realized how strong I have become because of it as I was writing this speech.  My professor told me after class that was very impressed to see the shift in my body language and voice as I talked about finding hope in the midst of my disabilities. He told me with quit a bit of emotion in his own voice that he was proud of me for having the courage to talk about a difficult topic.

Another girl in my class who spoke after I did talked about her story through dysgraphia, (a mathematical disorder of mixing up numbers). It was just as amazingly inspiring as my own speech was. I understood how she felt in every second of her story. She told us in her introduction how glad she was that I had the courage to share my story first.

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