"My biggest fear is that you're thinking about my learning disabilities as much as I am."
Last fall semester, I stood in front of a lecture hall of 200 students and announced my biggest fear. We were having a young entrepreneur turned motivational speaker address the class about following our passions which, of course, involved hearing his career journey. The speaker told the class of his three biggest failures, which had before had been his three biggest fears.
He expressed that we'd have to vocalize and own our fears in order to achieve our passions. He asked three students out of the large crowd to stand and share with us their biggest fears. I had just finished a news article for my reporting class that I would attend later that afternoon. Reporting is one of the most challenging courses through the University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications, and it was particularly challenging for me because of my two learning disabilities. During the reporting writing lab, my simple grammatical errors were laid out before me on paper soaked with red ink. I felt defeated as a writer before the halfway five-minute break.
The anxiety of sitting through that lab again grew as the afternoon dragged on. Maybe my upending fear for the lab motivated me to raise my hand in front of the motivational speaker. He called on me, and I stood up.
"You're thinking about my learning disabilities as much as I am."
The lecture hall went quiet. A girl selected after me stood and said she feared missing out on all of the university's great opportunities. I shouldn't have said anything. What was I thinking? A lecture hall of lower classmen would never authentically declare their fears in front of a class. Although half of them were probably asleep!
I felt small for sharing my fears, which were nothing new to me. I have been working on overcoming my disabilities since I was in first grade. I decided I wanted to be a writer knowing I have dyslexia and central auditory processing disorder, CAPD. Now, I am just stuck in with the challenge of writing with dyslexia and CAPD.
I felt small for sharing my anxieties because the impulsive declaration made me realize I was backsliding into fear again.
Every moment I spend worrying about having disabilities is a moment I take away from catching up to everyone else. I can't worry my minor spelling errors out of my papers, but I could proofread more. I could talk to my professors about improving my accommodations. I can advocate for myself like every disabled student has perfected over years of public school failings.
From that day on, I frequently remind myself not to let my fear of failure take over as I move through college with two learning disabilities. Like that motivational speaker, I will own my fears until they're no longer obstacles but success stories.