When I was younger my learning disability made me feel less than others. In middle and high school, it was very disheartening to see my peers finish their test before me, read faster than I could, and articulate themselves better than I ever could. I suffered with intense thoughts of bitterness, jealousy, anger, and resentment for everybody.
My anger got the best of me multiple times. However, one story I remember vividly was me failing a geometry test in high school. When my teacher put my paper on my desk faced down, I didn’t think much of it at first because she did that with everybody. She always said it was to protect our privacy. So I thought, “Okay, all of this studying I did for this test is about to finally pay off!”
Long behold, I flip my test sheet over and glare at my paper with utter disappointment. In my mind I was like, “Nah, this ain’t right. She made a mistake!” I could already feel my inner “N-Word” coming out and I already knew my reaction wasn’t about to be pretty.
Therefore, without even thinking I said something along the lines of, “Yo, this is some B.S. I can’t believe this. I studied my butt off for this test and I failed. Nah, this some B.S!” The teacher said, “Caleb, leave the classroom!” And I yelled back at her, “Fine, I ain’t trying to be here anyway!” After my verbal outburst I remember being escorted by an assistant teacher to the I.S.S. (In school suspension) room. As I walked in I took my seat and didn’t say a word. I was so pissed off I didn’t know what to do! After a couple of minutes passed by, the assistant teacher informed me how inappropriate my behavior was. And guess what! I cussed her out too!
What I learned from this experience is that I was 100% wrong for what I did. I failed the test, plain and simple. There wasn’t a conspiracy out to get me like my 16-year-old self believed at the time. However, I do believe that even though teachers are trying to help, many of them need to do a better job understanding students’ emotions better. Just like their under pressure we students are under pressure as well because when we don’t succeed our parents come at us and the other students tease us mercifully. Which can make you become quiet or not even want to try anymore.
In my opinion, my school could have done a better job in this department. Oftentimes, I was micromanaged and had assistant teachers read my test questions for me without my verbal consent right in front of the whole class. Which made me feel inadequate and even disrespected. All my younger self could do was tell myself, “Caleb, just try not to spazz this time!”
Now I’ve realized that many people are unaware of what they’re doing or saying. It took me a while to realize this but I’m not stupid and my learning disability isn’t anything to be embarassed of. It sucks that I often space out, can’t comprehend everything right away, and deal with intense rage but instead of making excuses here’s what I did.
Changed my diet and lifestyle choices
In high school my diet was trash. I’m surprised I was even able to keep up with others on the track team because I ate a lot of junk food. All that processed sugar does not help you focus at all. According to Web MD, “Lifestyle affects memory. For example, your diet plays a role. If your cholesterol, blood pressure, and blood sugar are too high, the blood vessels in and around your brain can get clogged or damaged. A Harvard study showed that people who eat more saturated fat (found in meat and dairy products) do worse on memory tests than those who eat less.” For my own lifestyle I have chosen a plant based diet. I do not consume processed sugar anymore after learning how sugar can cause diabetes, may lead to cancer, causes mood swings I have decided to get my sugar from fruits and the occasional maple syrup and agave nectar. In return, I have been able to think a lot better and wake up earlier without little or no interruptions, at my job I’m a lot more alert and aware of what is going on, and now ever since this change it’s easier to write blogs, read books, and publish youtube videos.
Ask for help and let go of the past
When I went to college I didn’t acknowledge my disability because I was embarrassed. I’ve always been extremely strong willed because my ego will always tell me that I don’t need anybody which stems from my rough upbringing witnessing my mother almost being killed by father at six years old. It shaped my understanding of basic human concepts and oftentimes empathy for others. Now since I walk with God I am doing my best everyday to let go of my ego and ask for help. It’s not easy for me because my inner thoughts always say, “Well no one helped you when you were younger, you had to help to help yourself. Caleb, you’ve done this for so long you don’t need anybody!”
For those who have a learning disability like myself, whenever you get frustrated, take a couple of deep breaths before lashing out. If you can leave the room and say,”I just need to excuse myself for a minute.” When you come back you must come back in a better mood because if you don’t, you might end up fighting somebody. And we all know how anger can turn into something very deadly. Have you ever noticed that everyone in jail right now spazzed out just ONE TIME! They let their ego take control and ended up killing or stabbing somebody. All because of their anger. Things that make you think!
On the flip side, those of you who have friends or family who have a learning disability understand it isn’t anything personal. People with disabilities like myself just have a lot going through our minds daily. Even though I found meditation, prayer, and a healthy diet I’ve been able to cope with my disability over the years alot better. However, those who do not have the coping mechanisms or the proper tools to manage their emotions can’t properly articulate how they feel in front of others. Also, no one with a disability is looking for an excuse just an understanding. That’s it, challenge yourself to understand others because in this world that is something we are all missing.