Finding a voice

You_are_here_galaxyI read. I read books and blogs and articles and I am pulled into the miasma of it all, overwhelmed, adrift in the sea of words and caught up in the ebb and flow of …everything.  It’s amazing. I love it and yet it makes me doubt myself even more. My self-doubt of why my voice matters in the maelstrom of amazing voices makes me balk at writing anything.

Even the marginal books I read I can appreciate (usually) and I wonder why in the vast ocean of words my voice would make a difference. There are so many amazing stories and writers that all my if’s add to the downward pull of what if my story isn’t compelling enough, what if I can’t come up with the right words to deliver the message?

Writing a blog for me is fear. It’s more than just an Imposter Syndrome thing, but it could be involved. It could include higher anxiety as well. Either way, it’s an ugly monster that washes me in, caught in the under tow, pulled away from the assured safety of the shore line voyeurism of just reading, my safe haven of reading.

Then I recall the advice given to me by a powerful lobbyist when I asked about what they do when they have a politician who is just completely against them. (This was a person who lobbies nationally for developmental disabilities) “I just add what I can. I think of it like a water glass. Some politicians already know about the needs of others and how to help. Their glass is already full, but we still want to give them what we can so they have extra. Others have an empty glass and I try to just add a few drops here or there if they are strongly opposed to it because you never know. One day they may have a niece or nephew who has an extra chromosome or a close encounter with a learning disability that makes all of my attempts come flooding back and fills his glass quickly, or it just may be that a few drops as often as possible will eventually start filling that glass.”

When I started advocating for gifted and learning disabilities, I focused more on the learning disabilities because I saw more of the short end of the stick on the side that didn’t allow their intelligence to be recognized and appreciated. As I’ve moved on, I see more and more that it’s the same struggle. It’s inappropriate education and a lack of understanding and my voice is more than just my stories.

Now I just need to keep my courage up to write. I’m so much better at presenting than writing. I get caught up in the moment and flow happens. Writing can occasionally be a flow experience for me, but more often than not, is a long hard slog.

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Author: Tom

I started advocating for G/LD students when I was finishing my undergraduate degree, but got caught up in life and forgot to continue to follow my heart. That’s changed and I’m again advocating for these students who fall through the cracks. Their gifts mask their LD. Their LD masks their gifts. I understand their situation because I’m one of those students who struggled through the school system as both gifted and learning disabled and never diagnosed. The challenges faced by a student who is gifted, but not served, is immense. The student who is LD, but not served, is unbelievably difficult. The combination is nothing short of cruel. It may be unintentional, but the need to understand this under-served population is necessary. These are some of the most brightest and creative minds who we ignore through school.

4 thoughts on “Finding a voice”

  1. Hi Tom,
    Thank you for the post. It’s very Painful to think about my childhood and the comments from my teachers that I had potential but was not applying myself. I was actually trying my hardest. From that I formed the belief that my best was and I was not good enough. Because of you and a very small handful of people I was able to realize that I was not dumb, flawed and strange but something complex, rare and special. Your contributions are valuable. Recently, I found the work of Brock and Fernette Eide. Their research has brought me to a whole new level. I understand now that in my case this “learning disability” is actually a different but normal thought process that enables unique intelligence and gifts. If you have not yet, please check out their website or Facebook page, Dyslexic Advantage. Here is a 14 minute video for anyone interested. I encourage even those who are not Dyslexic to learn about this trait since I believe it impacts everyone in some way. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xyab_VSBCAk

    Michelle

    1. Thanks Michelle. I think it takes a lot of courage to stand up and say you are learning disabled because of two parts. 1) Way too often, it is believed that LD means “Lazy and Dumb” and 2) Society as a whole believes you are more important if you are smart (despite not necessarily showing it at times). http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-505125_162-57443315/why-geniuses-dont-have-jobs/

      I will now add the Eides to my reading list. Thanks for the addition. 🙂

  2. Hello Tom,
    thank you so much for writing about your doubts and fears. You have a lot of courage writing about this, and believe it or not, what you write is truly important and not only small drops but huge oceans!
    You are so right, finding our voice is not a piece of cake and self-doubt comes so easily. I’m trying hard to find my voice, my way of expressing myself, in a hundred different ways, and I keep asking myself the same question as you do : there are so many other fabulous voices out there, so who cares about mine, anyway? But be it a drop or an ocean, I will continue, thanks to all you lovely people out there!

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