I was two years old when my mom took me to an academic counselor to get me diagnosed. My mom had been a teacher her entire life and was exceedingly alarmed when she came to the realization that I “colored differently than the other children.” I asked her once how this was even possible seeing as children often scribble aimlessly outside the lines, but she said my case was just different. The next four years my learning was monitored and I even homeschooled my first year of kindergarten so that my mom could better examine my learning, and then I was sent off to kindergarten.
It was here that it became evident I was behind in almost every subject despite my mom working so hard to get me where I should be. I did everything backward. I learned to add before I learned to subtract, I learned to read long vowels before short, and I genuinely feel that my teacher gave up on trying to teach my left from my right.
I made the journey down to a very intimidating looking office with a large sign that read “academic counselor” then after a series of test, it came out that I was dyslexic. This learning disability has been passed down from family to family member. It plagued my grandmother, only to be passed down directly to my father, and then to me. There are many cases where it skips a generation, however I was not graced with such luck. Every single family member on my father’s side has been diagnosed with dyslexia and I was just another number to add to what seemed to be the disappointment of my family.
My dad says he has forever held a heavy heart for me and the reason behind this and I am exactly like him. We think alike, talk alike, act alike, and we both have dyslexia. Dyslexia has forever been the bond that tied the hearts of me and my father together because no one can truly understand unless they have the condition themself. “I know exactly what you’re thinking,” was the number one thing said to me by my father time and time again. Unlike everyone else in my life, I knew when he said that, it was actually true. We shared a brain and he was able to explain things to me in a way I truly feel no one else could.
I went back and forth for years struggling with stupidity and finding myself inadequate. I always said I was never insecure about the stereotypical things most girls were insecure about. I never gave a fuck if I was good looking, pretty, or if anyone liked me, but I did forever fight the feeling that I was stupid. I had a nagging thought in the back of my mind all the time that everything I said was dumb and people were going to know I wasn’t even remotely close to where I ought to be in the area of intelligence.
Something really shifted in my about two years ago. I was sitting in Spanish class when I realized I understood every word my teacher was saying. “Entonces necesitamos trabajar duro hoy si tu quieres estar listo para mañana.” I literally blinked slow, thinking it was some sort of dream where I was completely bilingual. I understood everything she said. We need to work really hard today if we wanna we wanna be ready for tomorrow.
She continued speaking and I continued understanding. When I told my dad about it, he said he had always had a call for languages, but never really pursued it before. “Maybe that’s our thing. Our brains are backward, you know.” He said with a shrug. I had finally found something I was good at. No only had I found something academic that I was good at, I found something useful that I was good at. I began listening when I went out to different conversations when I would hear a Latino family speaking to one another. I was always so happy to see the look of surprise when I launched into Spanish by others who spoke it.
I am perhaps the most Caucasian woman who has ever graced the earth so there never ceased to be surprise when I went into fluent Spanish. I truly felt for the first time not only like I was adequate academically, but I really did feel smart. I felt smart and important. I was working at a restaurant at the time and I would use it to take the orders of people who did not speak English well. “Que te gustaria?” Was one of the first phrases I learned in my beginning stages. Every time I spoke in Spanish the attitude of those around me was always one of awe. I had spent a vast majority of my life feeling inferior to those who were smarter, quicker, and more clever than me. It seemed to me like their future was already made. It was almost guaranteed for them, almost like they had some sort of build in success.
For once, I had something that could take me far as well. I looked into the amounts translators made and realized it was also going to aid me in my passion for immigration and getting the undocumented community safely to America.
One thing I’ve always felt divides us is that we don’t speak the same language. This country is a melting pot of different cultures, places, people, and languages, but I’ve never felt more united than I did when I first began learning Spanish and I feel that sense of beautiful unity today too. Spanish gave me a personnel feeling of worth that I had never felt before up until before about two years ago and it gave me a much greater overarching feeling of inclusion. I felt like I was including a group of people that this country so often forgets.
I feel stronger than ever being bilingual and though I am not yet perfect, and perhaps I never will be, I am still working harder and harder every day. I realize that every single person finds their worth in different ways, mine was in a language I never even knew I wanted to speak which led me to meet some of the most amazing people.
Asi que mucho gracias para escuchando a me hablar y hablar y hablar! Espero que tu puedes encuentres tu valía en algo bonita tambien.”
(Thanks for listening and I hope you find your worth in something beautiful too.)