Why It’s Awesome to Have a Learning Disability and No You’re not a Freak
I used to think that I was a freak because I was always distracted, running late to appointments, getting lost in my own world, and doing 7 things at once that contradicted each other (like burning the rice on the stove while putting something really important on hold). The worst was getting yelled at by teachers, bosses, or coaches when I was young for not paying attention. If only they knew how hard it was for me to pay attention!
For me, paying attention was like trying to glue something heavy to a wall using cream cheese; unless I found something truly captivating, my mind would fly off into space. Once a subject lost my attention, my mind would swim off into another world. My first grade teacher would yell at me for being a day dreamer because I would daze out the window thinking about fairies (and I actually still believe that there were some, silly old man!). But the fairies were so much more exciting than listening to him talk about the capital in Turkey or how to do time tables.
My world is like living in a dream, where you don’t know which world is awake, and which world is asleep. To you “normal people,” if you lived in my world, you’d probably have more compassion for me too.
I was 17 when I was diagnosed with my learning disability. It was embarrassing to admit to my friends and family that my brain was some how less able. I envied the other smart kids’ who got the answer right on the first try or who could read quickly while taking reading comprehension tests without getting distracted. Reading comprehension was the worst! I still shudder to this day thinking about it.
But getting diagnosed my senior year in high school was actually a huge relief and a Godsend. After getting tested, I was told that I had a slight learning disability categorized as a “tracking disorder,” which was supposed to make things for me nearly impossible to do without writing things down and finding alternative ways of learning. The biggest gift at the time was that it allowed me to take my SATs or ACTs with extra time, which raised the scores dramatically, obviously. For a long time I felt guilty and that I didn’t belong to Duke University, my alma matter, because I felt I’d cheated on the test.
Now I realize that my life is so successful because I have learned to pretty much constantly cheat on everything, and that I have always had to do this. Because if I don’t do things my own way, I get bored, distracted, and my brain launches into space.
Fear and anxiety also trigger my learning disability, which make me make all kinds of silly mistakes, and sometimes I even get slurry in my speech, distracted, over excited, and making sense becomes a big challenge. You can notice this in some of my YouTube videos.
Today what I love most about myself is that I call my learning disability a learning BLI$$ability, because I have had to learn how to learn in a new way, and it becomes fun and even blissful. To make money, I had to find work that was interesting. Because again, boredom for me makes it impossible for me to stay focussed. And, I couldn’t take a lot of high-stress detail oriented jobs, which is why for my entire 20s I was only making a 4-figure salary, struggling to pay rent (or not, and living with my parents!).
Sure it was hard to have a bigger brother who went to Brown and Princeton and a top MBA program in Spain without needing extra time on his SAT, GRE, or GMATs. But I have learned to be proud of my way, who I am, and my BLI$$ability. Further, my hatred of standard learning has inspired me to teach women how to study, earn and learn blissfully at my online university for High-Healed Priestesses called Aphrodite University.
If you have a learning BLI$$ability, know that all of your dreams can come true, and that your limitations are actually a gift. You do have to be creative, and to think of cheating as part of the game! There is no need to force yourself into a box when you can roam free and shake the world up, and have a lot of fun along the way. Maybe you’re not even meant to be an academic. For years I worked as a licensed esthetician and it was nice to take a brain break and just massage skin cream into people’s faces and talk about their ideal boyfriend or what their kids were doing. Just because you aren’t a doctor, lawyer, biz exec, etc., doesn’t mean that you are better or worse than anyone. Just be you, and know it’s enough. That you are Divine Love incarnate, and that’s pretty great!
The main thing is to love yourself where you are at, and to let go of perfectionism and expectations. You can have it all, even if you have a diagnosed (or undiagnosed) learning BLI$$ability. Here is a video on healing perfectionism that might inspire you further: