Why it’s good to learn differently: My personal story growing up with a learning disability

Growing up with a learning disability is anything but easy. I know this first hand. Given I learned differently, I viewed myself as never being good enough and as a result, my confidence tanked. Finding strengths was difficult when I felt defeated, and at the time, differences were not celebrated. I never thought it was fair that my brothers and friends could blink their eyes and magically their homework was done; for me, completing homework was a frustrating and laborious process. Applying to colleges was a whole other ordeal when all those around me went to ivy league schools, and I knew I couldn’t.

School was not easy, but I learned how to persevere through those difficult times. I forged many meaningful relationships with teachers, professors, and tutors. It was through those relationships that I learned executive functioning strategies, study skills, and ways to compensate for my challenges. I developed grit and thick skin along the way. I learned how to circumvent and navigate when things became difficult. I learned how to advocate for myself, and I started to believe in my own abilities. Once I embraced who I was and found success, there was no stopping me. To feel empowered was a game changer.

My teachers, professors and tutors changed my life, but having a supportive family was paramount. Collectively, they taught me to own being different and to celebrate those differences. They encouraged me to find my strengths and harness them. I was encouraged to give back to others through community service. I was encouraged to travel the world and experience new cultures.

I met some amazing people over the years. I encountered many who shared similar stories of growing up with learning differences. To my own surprise, I would come to learn some of the brightest minds were people who learned differently – Albert Einstein, Charles Schwab, and Richard Branson are a few that come to mind. Each have left their mark on society in different ways, but to read their stories shows anything can be accomplished by anyone with the right amount of grit and determination.

I often say once you find success and the confidence to believe in yourself, there is no stopping a person. In a lot of ways, once I found the courage to believe in myself, I stopped caring what others thought. I had already encountered failure and met so many challenges early on, few things could derail me.

Learning differently was challenging, but it taught me a number of life lessons early on. If it were not for those challenges, I would not be who I am today. I have come to live by the motto “It’s not what you achieve, it’s what you overcome in life”. Much of my journey has been just that.

Tell me your story either with a comment or an email.

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