I Don't Struggle, I Can't
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Student Life

I Don't Struggle, I Can't

Why is no one hearing me?

I Don't Struggle, I Can't

You were always smart enough to know you never belonged in the group of people who were scholars– the ones that were assigned to help those who found math tough. And for a while you identified with the group of people who found math tough– that which implies that with a little help, they could be on their way with the rest of everyone.

In high school you learned to remove yourself from the group of people who found math tough. Math isn’t just tough for you. It’s impossible for you. An inability. You realize you don’t fit in with the group of people who just simply struggle, rather you fit into a group you didn’t realize existed. You were naïve enough to think there were two groups: Those who get it and those who struggle to get it. You failed to realize the group of those who can’t get it. Those whose brain wiring and chemicals legitimately inhibit them from catching on and getting it.

You ask people who took the class before you– the math class that was supposed to be the easiest one– you ask them how it was. They say it wasn’t bad. That with a little help they were on their way and got an A. You nod and become falsely hopeful. Knowing in the back of your head that you are the exception. Knowing in that back of your head that your brain is separate from those around you.

You ask questions in class because that’s what a good student would do, right? It doesn’t help. You leave with tears streaming down your cheeks because now you’re even more confused. You don’t even know what you don’t know.

You go to supplemental instruction sessions– like a good student. That’s a what a struggling student would do, right? You want so badly to be one of those students who just struggles, because that would mean you have a chance. But you are not in that category. We’ve established this. The sessions don’t help.

You decide you need more help, so you get a tutor. She tries. Concepts seem to finally click and then you get to the exam. Nothing on the page makes sense. You leave the exam session with tears streaming down your face because no one is listening to you. No one is hearing you when you tell them you are more than a student who just struggles. You are a student who can’t.

You meet with your advisor and ask if there is potentially a way to get the statistics class requirement waived as it seems it doesn’t even relate remotely to your major. He chuckles, applauds you for your boldness, but suggests you just power through. But that “power through” mentality is what would have worked if you were just struggling, not incapable. You take his words with a grain of salt because you know your brain. You know that as smart as he is he’s too naïve to understand the brain you’ve dealt with for 20 years.

You cry. Because every single soul thinks you just aren’t trying, when in reality you’ve tried everything. You cry because you’ll never be the writer you aspire to be because of a math class. You wish that statement made even a little bit of sense.

“You” is me. I am not a student who struggles. I am not a student with a negative attitude. I am not a student who just needs to try harder. I am a student with diagnosed learning disabilities who just can’t. Why is no one hearing me?

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