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Defeating the Disability

posted by LIM College

by Evelyn Magiera

“If we're starting with a base of failure and fear and frustration it's hard to build anything on that foundation. So we really have to turn this cycle around and it's quite possible to do” - Harvard Medical School, Jerome Schultz, PhD.

I was seven years old when my grade school psychologist told my parents I had an anxiety/learning disorder. Being a child at the time, I didn't have a complete understanding of what an “anxiety disorder” really meant.

In my mind, I thought I was different and unintelligent. As I got older, I thought anxiety was something I could eventually grow out of and become a “normal student” without depending on teachers or other resources for extra help. Dealing with my anxiety disorder as a child was a constant battle, socially and in school.

Being a student who was “classified” throughout grade school significantly lowered my self-esteem making it hard for me to make friends and raise my hand in class if I knew the right answer. I felt ashamed when other students had a better understanding of the material being taught and I was still a bit clueless.

I was never “dumb.” My disorder was as simple as this… Anxiety caused my mind to drift off in class causing me to lose my focus, leading me to fall behind. Although, when I was able to initiate a topic that I admired, I never struggled for help as a result of simply enjoying the topic given and staying focused.

It almost seems impossible to go through a new semester of college without feeling overwhelmed or stressed with assignments and tasks given from professors, right? Well, that was the old me. Continuously thinking ahead of myself stressing over what quiz I will fail or what a nightmare that group project will be. How am I going to pass this accounting class and understand all the assignments given? I was building stress, piling unnecessary thoughts in my head within the first 20 minutes of my new professors welcome speeches.

I sat though my first ever seminar class last semester. Once a month my professor has a motivational speaker come to our room to give us the “How I got where I am now” speech. My professor told us she had an extra special speaker coming in. A young woman with, admirably cute shoes, walked into our classroom and began to introduce herself. She started to explain where she grew up, went to college and where she is now.

“Previously, I had a small role in the latest Spiderman movie and had a small part in the hit show Gossip Girls. Today, I am a news anchor for New York One.”

She paused her speech for a moment to write “learning disability” on the board. I was confused yet completely engaged because I could relate.

“Would you ever believe me if I told you that I had a learning disability growing up?” She went from a girl with struggles, dealing with a learning disability to landing a full-time job as a New York One news anchor. Her objective was to show us that just because she had a learning disability that didn't mean that she couldn't pursue her dream job just because she was “classified.”

Since her speech, I have developed several ways to get through my anxiety disability helping me to have a positive outlook on life and not worry about what problem I will face next. Instead of jumping to conclusions on a problem or topic I will be facing in the future, first, I take a deep breath. Second, make a list on a piece of paper of what I need to do. Then, I analyze each topic, break it down and write a small solution next to each item. Having a visual of what I am worrying about really helps me because I am able to get my feelings and thoughts out.

Topics: student life, Student Advice