Updated: Feb 20
I will be sharing my story about recognizing my worth and realizing I will no longer be measured by anyone else’s terms but my own.
I was in the 4th grade in Mr. L’s Math class. Every Friday we played a game. In order to participate in the game each student had to complete sixty multiplication problems in sixty seconds. If you completed this task and got no more than two incorrect, you were able to play.
To give you a little background, I had an IEP (Individualized Education Program). Due to my learning disability at the time, I needed about double (sometimes triple) the amount of time to complete tasks that my peers would complete at a developmentally appropriate level.
After much frustration of not being able to complete the multiplication test and never being able to participate in the game (where you could win pencils, erasers, bouncy balls AND slinkies might I add), I spoke up to my parents.
Later my parents, Mr. L, and I all sat down and created a plan that was individualized, inclusive, and appropriate for me. We concluded that on Fridays I would do half of the worksheet, meaning thirty multiplications problems, in the sixty seconds. This plan made it possible for me to complete the task while also being just as challenged as my peers were.
The following Friday arrives.
The worksheets are passed out to each student. My desk is directly in the middle in the second row. Right before the class and I begin the multiplication test Mr. L says, “Oh wait,” proceeds to walk over to my desk takes his pen and makes an “X” on half of my worksheet.
My classmates began to make comments.
“Why does she only get to do half?”
“That’s not fair!”
“Isn’t that cheating?”
Mr. L responded stating, “Settle down, settle down, don’t worry about it; let’s begin.” As you can probably imagine my peers and fellow classmates did worry about it and I received quite a considerable amount of bullying from them due to their lack of understanding and the lack of fairness in their opinion.
Even with these adjustments, I did not end up completing the test and I did not get to participate in the game.
Because of this experience and many others similar to this as I struggled through school, I felt worthless. I felt like I was not enough. I was a failure. I only had to do HALF of what my classmates did and still did not complete my work, still did not get to play the game. How successful am I really? Will I ever succeed in school? Will I ever succeed in life? I do not want to “cheat” my way through. I want to be like my friends. I want to be like everyone else.
As I grew up and reflected on this experience, that “you are not enough” mentality shifted to a “wow, look how special you are” mentality. Look how wonderfully different and unique you are. Look how ENOUGH you are exactly as you are. Look at all your accomplishments, how you beat the odds, how you made it through all the adversity. It made me realize there is no "right" way to be successful. There is more than one path. We do not have to fit inside their box. We can create our own.
In one word, I would describe my story as “Empowered.” I have nothing to prove and I am enough just as I am.
If I were to give someone advice going through something similar I would say love you for you. Embrace your flaws; shift your mindset to appreciate all aspects of you.
Hear the song "Nothing" inspired by their story: (https://open.spotify.com/track/67CV4D3W7Z5kkA9eqWo0hJ)