Being different does have some benefits

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAToday is one of those dreary grey old days that we tend to get in the UK at this time of year.  The light is really flat, in fact so bad that although it was only just passed lunchtime when I sat down to write this post I  had to pop the light on to see the keyboard.  Poor light is bad enough to have to endure, but it is also uninvitingly cold out. The lawn has been rock solid for days whilst the heavens can’t seem to  decide what to throw down at us. Sometimes its rain and at others its noisy boulders of hail against the window, which draw my eyes to watch them playfully bounce back up off the lawn.

Talking  about the weather is a real typical British thing to do. I am in so many ways a typical Brit but in others I am not. If you have been following my posts you will already know that I am dyslexic, but for those that have just joined me, welcome. I’m not typical unless you are like me, and happen to be dyslexic. This condition distracts me from things that many others take for granted. It ensures that I don’t always fit a common norm, or match a typical value. For instance I have a weak recall for everyday facts. Sometimes it is so bad that I find it difficult to keep a conversation rolling, as I can’t recall the name of the film I watched last night, or name the footballer who might be at the centre of some media fuss; facts that I really ‘ought’ to know… surely? People look aghast, mouths agape, they stand taller and I have in the past let it make me feel inferior. Another trait that makes me different is that I don’t work with numbers well. Mental sums are hard because I can’t hold the previous number in my head long enough to add or subtract from it. Spelling is really poor too, as are tenses… ‘their’, ‘there’ and ‘they’re’ are classically misused.  Collecting my thoughts in a formal environment and dumping them on to a piece a paper, like you might in a formal report or college assignment, can produce some chaotic and very incomprehensible English. However, I’m lucky. Some dyslexics carry the burden of poor time keeping and weak organisational skills, which don’t haunt me so much. Reading can be a stumbling point. It used to be for me at school, but not so much now as I just enjoy reading the words and accept that I won’t pass a test on how many facts I can remember. However I can usually tell you how it made me feel or recall the insights I took from it. Some  dyslexics can look at books and find the words jump around the page, or we might have a tendency to display weak short-term memory, which can make holding on to a story problematic. A seeming lack of attention, fidgeting and a whole range of outward expressions of frustration are the typical inconveniences we are asked to control and suppress when young and as adults. Low self-esteem, the feeling of having been left behind, or feeling mis-matched to the environment you find yourself in are unfortunately the more typical outcomes for the adult dyslexic.  But you don’t really need me to tell you about dyslexia since there are plenty of  people and organisations who know more and could do that better; more factually.  All I can do is describe to you how it can make me feel if I let it.

So despite the weather being cold and horrible on the outside I have to report that I feel quite jolly on the inside. Firstly the notion that I could justify to myself postponing filling the compost heap with more leaves is a relief… but, even better, the idea of creating a new post for the blog is quite a thrill, especially as I have had a number of ‘hits’. These first responses are really exciting to receive. They make my endeavours to reach into the world far feel more meaningful and worthwhile somehow. I really am feeling over the moon, full of excitement and hope that there are some who might like to read my stuff. So I have a big thank you to Dyslexic Dan who gave a super and really encouraging comment and to Fiona from Mind Gym in Ireland who has signed up to be my first follower. Welcome aboard. I have checked out your website Fiona and it looks fantastic, lots of interesting pointers. However although I am on a bit of a high I have some reservations because there is a third comment that has been automatically dropped into the spam pot. It’s tantalising seeing it there. Do I open it? I can see from the first few words, without opening it, that  someone  is asking me how long it took me to write the Wishful Thinking Post. On the one hand I feel really flattered that there might be a real person out there who is interested enough to ask. I suppose at base level I am wondering and hoping that it will be complementary feedback, because that would make me feel really good. However the urge for a quick fix is restrained by a fear that if I open it I will invite a potential computer problem that I know I wont be able to deal with easily should it arise. Susan Jeffers might advise to ‘feel the fear and do it anyway’, but in my current frame of mind, behaving irrationally to satisfy an egocentric whim is not a particularly sound proposition, so I have decided to leave it alone.

So to get round my little problem I thought I would answer the question here in this post, just in case my fear is unjustified and there is a genuine Hotmail commentator out there still waiting for an answer. So, to the question how long did “Wishful Thinking” take me to write?  ……. I am not really sure.  Apart from it being a few days back and my memory is really not that hot, it was probably somewhere between 3 and 5 hours.  The one I wrote last, not that you asked but I’ll let you know anyhow because it was a long haul, took at least 7 hours.  I know neither pieces are very long and some might be able to rattle the same number of words off in half the time… but that’s the cost, the pain, the inconvenience I have to work with so that I can communicate using  language; words that aptly describe the pictures, the images, the stories that form and that I can see inside my head. Being dyslexic does pose me with difficulties, but these I know can be overcome with perseverance and/or  by using non-conventional methods to accommodate or circumvent them. It  also offers a real opportunity to be un- typical. It’s good to be different. It offers diversity and space for innovation, for it does afford a unique way of looking at the world.

But I haven’t always been this positive. It has taken a complete shift in the way I see and place myself in the world, which I have achieved by consciously adjusting how I think. It is not something I have been told how to do. It’s not a technique I have learnt or had to pay for. It has been self-led by me practicing listening to my own thoughts, observing my reactions and assessing how they make me feel. If what I am thinking makes me feel bad I consciously try to find a more helpful, but equally valid point of view, which is kinder on the self.

It’s how we chose to see and interpret the outside world that has the greatest effect on the quality of our inner world. So although it is cold outside, and may be wet and miserable from time to time, I know I can make myself feel warm and cosy within.

Picture. The Hope Diamond, Washington

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