This is my third last “first week of school.” Life doesn’t always go as planned but its up to the individual on how they handle that unpredictability. My college career might have taken five and a half years but I will have both Associates and Bachelors degrees, paired with memories that have helped me grow into the young woman that sits before you. My writing story is one of turbulent waters that I’ve ridden on my dyslexia boat.

Two traumatic memories halted my desire to write. In junior high I adored fantasy and loved the idea of being in love. I did not have my first boyfriend until after high school and didn’t fall in love until my mid-twenties. But, I’ve always held an overactive imagination and can write on things I’ve seen but not necessarily experienced. My 9th grade year I was into Lord of the Rings and all things Elvish. I spent weeks on a long poem about a she elf and the loss of her mate. The poem had helped me escape problems at home and bubbles of excitement followed me everywhere. Bustling with pride I asked my favorite English teacher to read over the poem. Her critique consisted of “ you’re too young to know what love is, and you have no idea even if you think you’re in love, you are not. “

My junior year of high school found me in an SAT Prep class. One day, my paper was shown as an example of what you shouldn’t do. The name had been blacked out but horrible handwriting tormented me, as my face masked disgust along with my peers at the “boyish” scribble before us. When I was tested for dyslexia they found that my verbal skills far outreached my written skillset. That means papers take a process of editing and reading out loud for my pen to catch up with my mind. The essay was written in class and showcased my horrendous grammar and spelling. I chimed in the mockery of how incompetent the writer had to be. I never felt more alone and ashamed. My writing was locked away because it was not fit for public opinion.

Throughout elementary, middle and high school, people saw me as less likely to succeed while also labeling me lazy, dumb and unwilling to try. I believed their labels and — two semesters into college — I dropped out.

Two years afterward, I found myself enrolling at a community college the day before classes began. I always loved reading, writing and learning about history but I initially struggled to create study habits to counter my dyslexia. But, my love of learning made me want to disprove those who doubted me.

I dreaded having to take English 101 and 102 at Spartanburg Community College, SCCSC. Anne Jones, a family friend who I’d know since three, motivated me into becoming a hardworking student. She would not let me give up on myself and taught me how to edit my papers. She read over them then had me read my work aloud to discover errors. No matter if it took all day she sat by me and never doubted my writing ability or creativity.

My English 101 and 102 professor saw my promise and held great adoration for my writing. I was awarded my community college’s “English Student of The Year.” He encouraged me to never give up on writing and suggested I switch to an English degree. I’m not an English major, but Anne and my professor’s belief in me provided the self-confidence to awaken my creative writing soul from a cobweb-covered coma.

"I'd like to help other kids with dyslexia, because I'm dyslexic. It was very hard, and I know that what I went through, other kids are going through." ~Bella Thorne