Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Everyone is a Genius...

"Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish on its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid."
-Albert Einstein
Have you ever been told you weren't good at something, or felt less because you believed you were inadequate? I have. This isn't a pity-party-post, not at all, this is about awareness. When I was in the 3rd grade, I was "diagnosed" with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD). I didn't really understand what that meant but I was told that school would be harder for me and that I would have to try harder than everyone else. I was put in special tutoring sessions after swim team practice and I sort of treated it like it was some cruel form of punishment. I was told I was going to struggle with math, and that I would have a hard time paying attention in my classes... guess what happened years later? I struggled in math, and I didn't pay attention in my classes. Looking back, I now wonder if I struggled in math because of the diagnosis, or was I diagnosed because I struggled in math? I may never know. But because I was told I was going to struggle with academics and that I would be "bad" at somethings, I felt inadequate... I felt smaller, and I didn't try as hard as I could have.

Academic success is a BIG deal in my family, not that that is a bad thing, just added to my sense of inadequacy and insecurity. I struggled in some areas of school... scraping by with C's in math, economics, and some science courses. I thought I looked like a failure to everyone around me because I wasn't good at the things that I was supposed to be, and I was less of a person because of my lack of abilities. I hated school. Hated. Think of something that is an insecurity for you, then imagine being exposed to it daily and have it be something that literally defines you. That was school for me. Starting in middle school, I received letter grades that represented my academic performance for History, Literature, Math, etc. I had the report card release dates memorized, I found a duplicate mail key, and I stole the grades from the mailbox before my parents checked it. I had to steal my little sisters grades, as well, because if they got her grades, they would expect to see mine. My sister was such a lifesaver, she knew that school was hard for me and thought it was unfair that I be punished for my bad grades... even she, at a young age, saw how ridiculous the system I was forced into was. If I did well one term, I let them find the grades on their own, I never let my parents or anyone else know how much I hated school and how much I struggled with it.

There were classes I loved and I excelled in. I had a few teachers that believed in me and wouldn't let me give up, they saw something in me that I didn't discover, myself, until many years later. While a Choir class could be signed up for as a "easy-A" class by many people, I literally loved it and enjoyed it. It was a class that I enjoyed going to because I love music; I love singing, dancing, and playing piano. I love the arts. I also did pretty well in my literature classes, I really enjoy reading and writing, so the classes were an interest to me and they made sense to me. I was involved with Leadership, which was an extra curricular so I didn't receive credit for it, but I still loved it. I'm an outgoing individual, and a natural leader. I'm comfortable in front of an audience when delivering a speech, it doesn't terrify me like it does for most people. Do you see where I am going with this...?

I was told that I was going to be bad at school and that I would struggle... and I did. I failed many, many times. I developed amazing persuasive abilities and communicative skills that enabled me to talk my way out of failing and receiving some sort of extra credit or a second chance. It wasn't until I had a teacher, Mrs. Stephenson, tell me that I was an amazing public speaker and one of the best impromptu speakers she had ever see that I realized that I may actually be good at something. It wasn't until my choir teacher told me that I couldn't be in her jazz ensemble because I had a soloist voice that I realized I may actually have a talent. I still don't believe it most the time, I have 23 years of experience to fight against. For my entire life, I've been told that I, literally, had a learning disability. I don't know about you, but as soon as I hear "disability," I immediately think of words like "unable," "limited," inability," and "weakness." I have felt inadequate for my entire life. I just graduated college and I didn't really even care because in my eyes, it was nothing impressive, I got it done... that's all. It wasn't something worth celebrating, it wasn't anything impressive, just 5 torturous years that I couldn't wait to be done with.

I say "No More." I have spent my entire life feeling stupid, inadequate, and weak, because society had lead me to believe that because I wasn't as good at math or reading as quickly as I should have been that I was disabled. I loudly exclaim "bullshit!" I am the fish that was told I was stupid for not being able to climb a tree... well guess what? I'm a FISH! I can SWIM pretty damn well, why wasn't that good enough? I excel in the arts; singing, piano, anything musical, and I can draw pretty well. I'm a phenomenal public speaker, communicator, and writer. Tell me why those abilities weren't praised and admired? I am different, I am unique, and I am talented. Society may not know how to handle me and my gifts, but that's not my problem, that is clearly a problem that lies with society.

You may read this and relate, there may be an area in your life that you aren't so great in. Who the hell cares?! That's what I say! I got through college, yay for me, but now it's time to do things my way and I'm going to go out and make my dreams come true and make society respect me and my abilities. I recommend you do the same. If you ever feel less because someone tries to make you believe that your inability to climb a tree defines you, I give you permission to loudly exclaim "bullshit" and show them just how well you can swim!

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