One of the things I struggle the most with in relation to my dyslexia is the apprehension that comes before I need to do anything involving speech.
My Comfort Zone
Oddly enough, my comfort zone is in writing, because I can go back and change incorrect language. I can let my fingers fly, I don’t need to worry about what they’re doing, and my ideas flow. Mistakes can be fixed later.
Speaking is different. I guess I’m a bit of a outlier in the dyslexic community, because I do find speaking so much harder than writing. My word recall isn’t that fantastic, my pronunciation has issues sometimes and my working memory can’t keep up with conversation.
At this point, that anxiety is a little irrational. As an adult, I’m not shy about talking about my dyslexia and telling people what to expect. If they react poorly, they react poorly, and I know I don’t need to include them in my life if I don’t want them there.
It was different as a kid. I didn’t understand why I had so much trouble, since my brain was supposed to only screw up the written word. Dyslexics are supposed to great orators, right? I was powerless to avoid a lot of the adults and other kids who refused to understand, because I had to get through school.
For me, age brought knowledge and hard won confidence to share it.
Still, new experiences are scary. There’s always the possibility of terrible endings, but there’s also the possibility of great experiences.
I Did Something New!
This year, sitting on panels was one of my new things. I’ve spoken in front of large groups of people before. I’ve even sung and danced in front of them, but this was the first time I had conversations in front of them and accepted questions.
I was understandably nervous. It was actually a bit more than simple nerves, because I had been taking an antibiotic which messed with my mood up until Thursday.
In the end, I did end up screwing up a few times. The word “dual” gave me problems, and my short term memory decided to take its leave a couple times, but everyone was understanding.
I appreciate that immensely. Since both panels were about marginalized populations, and the first one was about invisible disabilities, I think most people had some sort of experience with that sort of thing.
Part of what makes speaking out so difficult is the fear of reception. Will I be threatened, heckled or bullied? Will someone decide they need to try hacking my account, like they did when I sent out a rather mild tweet about GamerGate? Will problems out of my control sour peoples’ opinions of me?
You can never know what will happen. Yes, I have the right to exercise free speech, but that also comes with the responsibility of dealing with the fall out. That’s true for many things.
Facing the Fear
Part of going for your dreams and goals is working with that fear. It’s so tempting to try shoving it out of the way or using it as an excuse to avoid things, but in my experience, acknowledging it and figuring out what’s causing it helps more than doing either of those things.
That said, there is still a lot I need to work on for myself. I plan on getting help for some of it, because figuring it out on my own just isn’t working. A lot of it seems to have to do with my changing situation and it just seems to be a part of my growth process.
Keep in mind, too, that this is just my personal situation. It’s probably different for you. I find things eventually get better and stay that way when I challenge myself and face certain problems head on, but that doesn’t work for everyone.