"I know things are tough right now, but remember every flower that has bloomed has had to go through a lot of dirt to get there." Barbara Johnson
When many people admire a flower, they appreciate the beauty and the sweet aroma that bloom can bring. Few people think of the process and the dirt that a blossom had to go through to get there. Living with a Learning Disability has been like a growing flower. For me to blossom I had to go through a great deal of dirt to bloom into my full potential.
The compost of having a brain that was wired differently was dumped on me at a young age. I was diagnosed with a Learning Disability in Kindergarten. My parents explained that I learned differently and assured me that I was smart. In time, hearing those words helped me. At school, I had my peers telling me that I wasn't smart and I often didn't feel intelligent. I was struggling to learn in my Learning support and regular education. Even with the accommodations learning was truly a challenge for me. Math and science also presented difficulties for me. I spent a great deal of those years being frustrated with myself. Thankfully the support began to work and I was placed in more regular ed classes and was doing well in them.
Socially I had to go through the dirt as well. I was bullied as a young child in school. Many people didn't want to be my friend because I had a disability. During my Elementary school years, it was not being invited to a birthday party or not having someone to play with on the playground. When I got older it became more difficult as the peer groups became more defined. I didn't feel like I fit in anywhere and was excluded more. Luckily I found a great group of people outside of my school community, that I began to hang out with. Over 20 years later and we are still friends
Not driving also separated me from my peers and led to exclusion. Most of the other students were getting their licenses and couldn't understand why I didn't drive. As an adult many times people were also not kind about not being able to drive. I had people who told me that I was lucky not to drive and that I could drive if I wanted to. I heaped more dirt on myself when I tried to reason with people like that. Other times not having a license prevented me from having a job that I wanted or being able to go to activities. I'm grateful for understanding people who have given me rides.
The limitations that others placed on me were another layer of dirt. I encountered many people who didn't think that I could accomplish much with a disability. I was told by multiple people that I could not go to college, get my Bachelor's Degree, or have the job and life that I wanted to have. Hearing those words discouraged me further and caused me to have anxiety about the future. I became negative and dwelled on what I could not do. Despite the discouraging words and my hesitation, I went forward. Deciding to pursue my dreams wasn't always easy and at times created more dirt. Often I felt like I was drowning in it and had more being poured on top of me. At college, I struggled to get good grades and pass my classes. I added more dirt by not using disability accommodations because of the stigma.
Thankfully I had a professor who helped me to dig out of the dirt by encouraging me to use accommodations in her class. I was able to pass her class and get my associate's Degree. When I went back to get my Bachelor I used those services and had an easier experience. My grades improved and I got a Bachelors Degree despite being told that I couldn't.
Once I began to work with the dirt, I found that I began to blossom. Each achievement big and small helped me to bloom. Having success helped to enrich me, like the nutrients in the soil help the flower grow.
Throughout my years of having this, I have had to learn that there will always be dirt. I will not outgrow or overcome it. Some of the difficulties will stem from the soil of one. I have also found that I can control not adding extra layers of dirt. Using strategies such as advocating for myself and finding new ways of doing things not only help to not heap more dirt on me, but to dig myself out of the pile I'm in. The dirt and mess that I had poured on me hasn't harmed me but has strengthened me. Just like the flowers that I love I too had to go through some dirt to get to where I am today.