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The Challenges in Life

By Tamara Wood-Downey, Grade 12
Everyone has challenges in life, some visible, some not.

In my case, I was diagnosed with dyslexia in first grade. At that moment I didn't really know what it meant or that it would be a label I would be tagged with for the rest of my life. All I knew was that the way I learned would be different from all the other first graders in my class. I figured it out when my teachers realized that I wasn't keeping up with the rest of my classmates. My level of reading and writing was not improving at the same rate as others my age. As a first grader, the gap between my peers and I was not that noticeable but it grew in size as the years went on. As school became more challenging and rigorous, my dyslexia became more noticeable. A moment that resonates with me was back in sixth grade when I started writing essays in French class. I kept getting negative feedback and discouraging grade after grade until it got so bad that my teacher wouldn't even bother grading my papers anymore.
Dyslexia isn't something concrete nor a feeling: it is just a presence. It is a constant reminder of the extra work I have to put in and all the obstacles I've had to overcome. Living with dyslexia is a challenge and can be frustrating at times. I do not know how it is to be considered normal; misspelling each word in the English language is my normal. It can be annoying but feels natural at the same time, as I haven't experienced life without dyslexia. There are times when I just feel like giving up and discouraged but I remind myself that everyone has their own demons.
Over the years I have come up with many tools to make my dyslexia less apparent and stop focusing on the things I can’t control. Some were more effective than others but in the end, I have learned from my mistakes and found the solutions to help myself be more productive. After being diagnosed, I was told that I would have to use a computer to help me write at school, which helped a lot. After a couple of years of using a computer, I decided to take on my dyslexia head-on. When I arrived in 7th grade at Stanstead, I decided I was done using it. For the first little while, it was overwhelming but I focused on seeking help and finding solutions to the problems. A little while later it started getting easier. Now that I am in 12th grade, and many courses over the years have been challenging and still are, I focus on trying my best and find what works best for me to help me reach the goals I want to achieve. It took me patience and perseverance but it all was worth it in the end. The most important adaptation was not being afraid to reach out for help before the situation got out of control and to always be honest with myself.
There might be a lot of negatives when you think of Dyslexia but there are some positives as well. Dyslexia over the years has taught me that life is challenging and nothing comes easy. It has taught me to create a good work ethic like being organized, having good time management as well as being hardworking because without hard work and dedication I wouldn't have been able to surpass it. Another important part is seeking help and not being afraid of admitting to failure. If you don’t accept failure then you will not know what you need to focus on to help yourself. It has also allowed me to grow my self-confidence as I will always have something that makes me different from others but it doesn't mean it's a bad thing. It just makes us unique.
The ways I am affected by Dyslexia might be different to everyone else. Just because you have it, it doesn’t mean that you will be affected in the same way as everyone else: some are affected by numbers, others reading, and some with writing. It all depends on your case but it doesn't mean that some are struggling more than others. Some just have greater strengths in certain things and others find more success in different areas. For example, Albert Einstein had dyslexia. His dyslexia affected his reading abilities, and he had delayed speech. Whoopi Goldberg has dyslexia, and she had difficulty with her reading. She couldn't see the differences between the words she would read which made reading her scripts very difficult, but they found creative ways to learn that worked for them. Dyslexia didn't bring these successful people down: in fact, they brought down dyslexia. Which everyone should aim to do with their individual struggles in life.
Having dyslexia or any other physical or mental challenge can be frustrating especially, when people use it as an insult. But we need to learn how to put those words behind us and reflect back on the fact that everyone has some sort of challenges that are not visible but you can't let that label you as it makes everyone unique. It does not define intelligence.