I feel very moved today by something I saw on LinkedIn. A young girl from Singapore called Amena wrote to Richard Branson, telling him she’s writing a book about a child with dyslexia, to explain to the world that being dyslexic doesn’t mean you’re not clever. Here’s the article.
That touched a nerve with me.
I have dyslexia. I don’t talk about it very much but maybe I should. Mine is unusual in that my struggle with is not spelling/literacy, hence it was not picked up until my adulthood (although I do struggle with reading). Those closest to me will know that when I’m really under pressure, one of my greatest fears is that I’ll get ‘caught out’ one day, and everyone will finally know how ‘stupid I really am’. They’ll find out.
Now intellectually, I know that’s not true. I did alright at school. I can reason around it, but the feeling is still there. To be completely honest, I cannot imagine a world where it won’t be. Perhaps Amena’s book is just what I need too.
I spent a long time avoiding having to read in class, not being able to tell the time, left from right (but I can do it in Spanish – go figure), find things or remember peoples names, and generally being pretty malcoordinated. We all accepted that I was ‘scatty’, ‘forgetful’ and couldn’t tell the time. This entrenched quite deeply this feeling that I’m secretly stupid, and my coping mechanisms, like playing to my strengths and keeping one step ahead as much as possible, were actually cheating. As opposed to what they actually are, which is ways of marking sense of the world with the tools I have available.
Over the years, I have become very fond of my dyslexia, the more I have got to know it, and be able to articulate that to the people who matter to me. The only thing that genuinely bothers me now really on a regular basis, is struggling with people’s names. That’s because I think it makes me seem dismissive of people when really I care very much about them. It’s not that I can’t be bothered to learn your name..
I’ve discovered that dyslexia is just being wired differently. It feeds my creativity, a hugely important part of my life, and problem solving and ability to laugh at myself. Often, people who have solved big problems or done big things are dyslexic – we all know famously about Albert Enstein, but there are plenty of others.
It’s a shortcut to creativity and actually can be an awesome tool. Just don’t let it limit your belief of yourself so you don’t try. Because then things won’t work because you didn’t try, not because you’re dyslexic.
I wish Amena all the luck in the world for her book. I think I’d like one for my inner child.