This I Believe

Patricia M. - Santa Maria, California
Entered on March 19, 2007
Age Group: 30 - 50
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I Believe Differently

When I was a mere child, I remember hearing the painful phrase ” We are sorry Mr. and Mrs. Smith, but your daughter is just dumb.” The weight of those crushing words followed me like a shadow, never once leaving my side. Even on the sunniest of days, there it loomed.

I looked like everyone else in class. I talked like the rest of the childern. I played like my classmates. I just couldn’t make the grades. Not because I didn’t try. Nor because my parents didn’t try desperately to help their daughter learn. Neither because the teacher or tutors didn’t give their all. I just wasn’t wired like most.

I barely made it through high school. I remember sitting there reading a paragraph numerous times and not understanding it at all. I could see the words, but they were just groups of letters with no meaning. Don’t get me wrong, I enter – acted well with my fellow students.

In the early eighties, I so wanted to go to the junior college in our town. I knew it was Important to have a good education to succeed. When I applied for the dental assistant classes, they said, ” No dear, you’re just not smart enough. You should join the work force. College is not for you.” Again, there I was feeling the weight of my lack of knowledge and understanding.

I remember knowing I was not dumb and that I could learn. It may take me much longer than most, a small price for knowledge. I would not buy into having a disability. No, I believed I was challenged, and I was up to the challenge. I needed to be all that I could be.

I picked up a book that Oprah had on her book of the month club, ” Song of Solomon” by Tony Morrison. I sat down with Webster and looked up each word that I didn’t know, and there were many. It took me three months, but I did it! To this day, I love the book and the gift it gave me. I knew deep in my heart of hearts I could read and I could understand. Most of all, I believed I was not dumb. That I am smart and that I can succeeed with a limited education. This book was a journey on many levels.

I have gone bcak to the same junior college and have taken on-line classes. The first was a computer class in which I received ninety eight percent on the final. I finished the class with the rest of thr students and did not fall behind. I am so proud of this accomplishment. I have a wonderful counselor who has helped me with my map of success. The college has great assistance for those with learning challenges.

Most of all I believe I am Smart and that I am up to the challenges that come my way. Believe in yourself. Don’t give up.