I thought it was time to write about something that is personal and, for a long time, made me think I couldn’t write for a living, about my dyslexia (I almost wrote dyxlesia, thank my lucky stars my writing program knows how to use a red pen). It is a demon I have carried with me a long time and have been putting off the topic.
Dyslexia has affected me my whole life both good and bad ways. Also, I’m sure it is the reason why I often find sitting under my desk the best way to spend my life. Only after reading Philip Schultz’ My Dyslexia I understood why I am over critical of myself, why I often feel worthless, and why I banged my head against the floor as a child. But it also had made a fighter. Outperforming against expectations, doing the impossible, and running towards my weaknesses and trying to correct them. It hasn’t been easy to get to the state I can flip a finger to it and its side products. I’m on my way of getting there. And what finally tamed the worst of the demon was start writing and taking it seriously. That doesn’t mean I don’t keep making the same mistakes over and over again (I have this checklist I have to use), but I don’t any longer hate myself for them.
I would kid if I said my dyslexia didn’t affect my writing. Of course, it does. I mix words, letters, and more than often I have difficulties with grammar. And here the former demon would ask: “Why the crit you think you can become a writer?” For a long time, I believed the voice that I can’t be a writer. That only someone who can write perfectly can tell stories and say something meaningful. Unfortunately, that wasn’t only in my head. It was something I got to hear from my teachers, from my family, and from my peers. And I think I would still believe the voice both the inner and outer if I hadn’t failed to get a job when graduating. I stopped caring. I had nothing to lose. So I pursued the only thing I have always loved, and that was telling stories.
At first, I was terrified to type anything down. To show my writing, to let them be criticized. And they were a mess, and rightfully so. Writing is a muscle you have to use to get better. But the more I write, the more confident I get and less I fear the mistakes I make. We all make mistakes with or without dyslexia. Thank the space aliens there are programs like Grammarly or ProWritingAid. With their aid, I can cut the worst mistakes out. There are times when I can’t believe I have formed a perfect sentence. Those times I feel like dancing which I don’t do as someone forgot to give rhythm to this body of mine. (Luckily it can climb. I have started bouldering, and I love it. When I go to the gym, I forget all my personal problems and concentrate on the problem on the wall.) It was the fear of mistakes which kept me back and now as I have learned to accept them, I’m more free to do them and more free to try. And the funny thing is, the number of mistakes have decreased. I catch myself typing down one, and my mind says stop. Look back. It might be because it is a conscious effort.
I have to trick my brain when I write. I change the font to dyslexia friendly font like Verdana. It cuts of 30% of the mistakes I make. Another thing is I changed the background color from white to this light greyish peach-pink tone. I’m sorry I don’t have a correct color tone for it. It has helped me and a lot, cutting off more errors, and it is easier for the eyes as well when you stare at the screen for a long time. It is the little things that count. Whatever gives an advantage over something I can’t fully control.
Dyslexia will never leave me, but I can stop giving it power over my life. It and other experiences in my life made me nervous, neurotic, defensive insecure, introverted, and always feeling like an impostor in everything I did, especially in my writing. Someone once said dyslexics carry with them the feeling of guilt and inadequacy. I can underline that. But writing this blog, tweeting every day, pursuing the career as a writer, and forcing myself out of my comfort zone by marketing and connecting with other people has actually changed me. A few days ago, as I wrote to my friend, I understood I had stopped shouting myself every other day I’m stupid, lazy, and worthless like my primary school teachers told me. I had internalized their words, and for the first time over two decades they were not anymore with me. And to be honest, one reason is all the positive feedback I have received from you guys. Thank you!
We are all flawed one way or another, and that shouldn’t be a reason to stop you making most out of the opportunities you have, we have! In some twisted way, I’m glad I failed after graduating. It was the push I needed to stop being awful for myself and to others.
Thank you for reading!