Pressure, Perceptions, Dyslexia and Me

by Amina Tumi, 32 yrs, London, Hairdressing Salon owner

I feel like I have been living in a box – with all of my unresolved issues going around and around but not really going anywhere or getting anywhere with life or myself. I have been experiencing life in a way that has not taken on board whether I am truly living the real me, and this brings up questions.

I never thought I could write or even read as I always believed I was dyslexic. This thought  held me back in many ways as I had labelled myself as being less than others because I was not as clever or intelligent. What is true intelligence anyway?

I would feel I was not good enough if I could not read a word or spell in school… or after leaving school as a young lady. I remember being in a restaurant (on a date in my teens) and not being able to read the menu properly and feeling like I was really stupid and that something was wrong with me.

What I have been told (and seen as someone with dyslexia) is that the condition makes it difficult for the person to learn the same way as others, and they have difficulty in reading. I can look back now and say that I would get so nervous when being asked to read – that I would not be able to see what was written clearly on the paper – and I would get so jumbled when trying to express the words.

HAVING DYSLEXIA AND THE PRESSURE TO BE AT THE HIGHER LEVEL

Why is it that our society puts pressure on sensitive, very feeling-based children, like I was, to be a certain way in the world – and that if you don’t measure up in that way according to society, then you really stand out as not being good enough?

Could it be that society has a ‘perfect student’ syndrome going on, one that you need to aspire to and get to and feel like a failure if you don’t? In school the kids would say you are dumb if you are in the bottom classes and that to need help from teachers means that you must be pretty stupid. What about how those kids feel when being judged in this way?  What support is on offer for them?

I know that feeling this way doesn’t end in school, in fact, it feels as though it is just the start. I was in the ‘middle’ when it came to class level, not the labelled ‘stupid’ class, but not the ‘intelligent’ one, either. I found there to be more students at this ‘middle’ level but I also felt that I was only there by the skin of my teeth, and that was a pressure that I lived with on a daily basis.

At the age of 15 I got into hairdressing and I loved it. I was not looked at as being ‘less’, and it was a more practical skill where I felt in my element. However, I still had this dyslexia issue hanging over my head. Whenever we had to read or do any theory in class, the anxiety would come up and I remember reading something out to my team and stuttering and stumbling so much that no one could even look at me. They just looked away in embarrassment for me, and I felt ashamed and so very stupid after that.

I had taken on a forced way of being that really damaged me as a child because I was not left to develop at the pace that was right for me. Worse, I was made to feel inadequate for not being where others were by being put in lower classes.

Why are we put under so much pressure as children to be at the ‘higher’ level? And is the ‘level’ we are pressured to be at a true way of being anyway?

I remember having a home teacher a few evenings to help me, and although this was only a couple of times it really started to build my confidence. I realised for a moment that “I can do this”. However, as my mum was unable to keep this going, I slowly went back to how I was, but that marker stayed with me – that I just needed more time, but also to have a teacher help you in a way that makes you feel understood. This was huge for me.

DECONSTRUCTING THE PERCEPTIONS AROUND DYSLEXIA AND BEING STUPID

I have and still am in the process of, deconstructing the false me that has taken on ideals and beliefs that I am stupid somehow – and this has added to my feeling that I have been made to please others by what I do, say and think… and of course, how I look.

I feel as a result of the attitudes and perceptions around dyslexia and perceived learning difficulties and the pressure I felt to ‘perform’, that I was robbed of my true loving nature. It would have been amazing if one of my teachers had asked me ‘How are you doing as it looks like you are struggling a little?’

How is it that we as the adults can choose not to truly acknowledge and connect to the children who are very clearly struggling around us? What are we not wanting to see? Is it that we don’t know how as adults to truly support these children with a different learning style? Is it perhaps that our schooling system doesn’t currently accommodate the children that learn in a slightly different way?

What if we treated everyone as equal at all times, no matter the age or abilities, but also had a deep understanding where one is at any given time? Would we then be allowed to grow up and be the unique, amazing, sensitive, playful, gorgeous little things we truly are?

 

192 thoughts on “Pressure, Perceptions, Dyslexia and Me

  1. When we make it about being on a higher level there is always someone that needs to be on a lower level otherwise if we were all equal the whole idea of higher and lower would not exist, so the very system of categorising into higher and lower or better and worse is flawed as it brings in comparison and judgment.

    1. Very true Judith, the system creates separation amongst the children as we judge them for what they can do and how much they can remember and not for who they are; an impossible situation to have harmony within the workplace as every child can feel that they are being judged and compared to another.

  2. I have to meet you one day Amina, its uncanny how many similarities we have, I have read your other blogs and you are an incredible woman. For most of my life I identified with being dyslexic and I decided to go into hospitality because it felt very hands on and practical but reading and writing dockets was difficult. I am now writing very well when I have a computer and reading blogs everyday. I had a brief stint of thinking I wanted to study hairdressing as well but I choose to open my own cafes instead. If I ever get over to the UK I would love to meet , you are a true inspiration.

  3. When I was child, I had trouble saying certain sounds and what I remember about it was the shame I felt when I had to leave the classroom to go to the speech teacher. I did not think there was anything wrong with me until someone decided I needed to go to the speech teacher.
    Later in life I began to understand that is hard to be different in this world.
    When I found Universal Medicine, Serge Benhayon presented we are not supported to be ourselves in this world and that is all that we need to do. With support I am returning to myself, and now I can support other people to do the same just by being me.

  4. I feel your article Amina exposes not just the difficulty a child may have, but the inability of us as adults to meet everyone exactly as they are. Our education was such that we conformed to the mainstream and so are unable to flow with the differences that all people have. This could be the starting point of supporting children with learning difficulties. Firstly drop our own ideals about how we will find a person to be, and instead accept how they are.

  5. Hello Amina and I have found the problems or learning difficulties that children and then adults face interesting. As you say the pressure we put on ourselves and others to match up to a level or bar that continues to rise is impossible. The only thing it does is bring in competition where you don’t ever match up to the impossible bar but you are at least better off then someone else. Let’s talk about the pressure as well, you can just imagine if you are having a difficulty how much more difficult it is when you are put under the spotlight and under pressure. I see this as deliberate and it comes from us not seeing children or not seeing people for who they are and what they need. We put everyone into classes or groups and then whatever the norm is of that group we focus on that. In that focus much doesn’t get seen and many don’t get heard. Dyslexia is one such condition that with respect isn’t truly a condition. It comes from children not being seen for who they are and then a system delivering learning as a dictation. The children have a part in this as well but it is up to us, all of us to support each other and not just diagnose, give a solution and try and fix.

  6. Thank you for sharing this, Amina. I can really feel how the lack of understanding has played a big part in me judging people and their choices, and my consequential reactions – when faced with something/someone that didn’t fit into what I had perceived as normal in my own little world.

  7. Thank you Amina for sharing. I was not dyslexic but I struggled at school. I was in a top set by the skin of my teeth but I had to work and I put so much pressure on myself to be there to please those around me. It makes me feel sad that I and so many conform to this way of being when there is so much wisdom, playfulness and love to be shared with the world.

  8. Often I feel it’s just put into the ‘too hard basket’. People don’t have the confidence to trust they know how to help, so they turn a blind eye and hope that someone else will pick up the slack, meanwhile letting the child feel completely and unnecessarily inadequate.

  9. Briefly reading some of the comments, it appears it’s not uncommon for people to have experienced struggle at school, and with little support. Awesome that you’re sharing your story Amina, because it’s further confirmation for those that have a shared experience that nothing was ever wrong with them and that they were definitely not alone. Such a shame it isn’t discussed as commonly as it is experienced.

  10. The ‘perfect student’ syndrome not only affects the child but also the parents/adults. I have noticed that having kids who are ‘doing well’ at school is one of the big tick boxes for a parent, so they feel they are doing well.

  11. I don’t recall my primary or high school ranking us into groups by our performance. I know this system is common in England but now I see it in our local high schools. Perhaps I didn’t notice this was going on, as I was one of the ‘smarter kids’ and got a lot of recognition out of this as a younger person. Reading this blog I could feel the stress of being in the middle range and the worry of slipping into the lowest class, where you are labelled as stupid. Thank you for sharing this perspective with us.

  12. What a huge misunderstanding we have with being clever. This idea we have that it’s to do with having the answer or speedily replying is so far from the mark, and cuts out and isolates those who don’t make the mark. Our true intelligence lives in the body – and honouring it is our way to master. If we had classes in connecting feeling and sharing this Amina you would get an A+

  13. Being measured against a model that doesn’t take into account the multi-dimensionality we are actually from and a part of, will only succeed in producing mind dominant humans at the expense of the body and it’s natural and universal intelligence.

  14. Amina I am sure there are many who feel as you did at school. This is the problem of assessing children through a set grading system. We are all so individual and our needs are so different as well. To be accepting of our differences in all areas of our lives and if “a hand” is needed then making that OK.

  15. Amina every child should be viewed individually, as we all have our unique way of learning, and there is no one size fits all approach. It is a sad reflection of society that the way we educate is to fit every one into the same shape, when in fact we are all unique and complementary to each other. Instead of filling us up with information deemed to be useful, if education became a means of working together on projects we might see a more harmonious world.

  16. I was Dyslexic growing up I can’t really say that I am completely cured, as I had to copy paste the word Dyslexic from this article as I don’t know how to spell it still, haha. Although I have changed and grown an enormous amount through my Studies with Universal Medicine and I am now quite a confident and capable writer and reader. School never offered me this, I always felt a pressure and did not feel good enough academically.
    Now I have 5 children and 2 of them seem to have the same learning difficulties as I did. It’s hard to watch them with the same struggles as I had and I am trying to support them the best I can, in a system that does not seem to understand the way they learn.

      1. I think the difference is we are not owned or identified in being dyslexic, it’s not something I feel holds me back in any way and I no longer hold the belief that it makes me less. I can feel this is the same for!

  17. Sadly the school system is set up to not accommodate the individual needs of children and truly support them based on the learning style that will allow them to learn what they need to at the pace that is suitable for them. Schools today appear to be set up like a business and if you can’t keep up with the curriculum and learning expectations, there is little accommodation… and we are failing children who, such as yourself, suffer as a result.

  18. This is why the current school system does not make sense – we are not made to be the same. Yet even though we are all equal when it comes to essence and our energetic ability to connect to everything there is, we still bring a uniqueness that cannot be compared to one another. To me, the current schooling system breeds comparison and doesn’t take into account our uniqueness.

  19. What I feel on the subject of learning is that when we work together as a group within what ever that setting is, and then we can learn from each other and bring the whole group up to speed. Teachers should just be there to inspirer and set a direction. Those students who get it straight away share with the rest of the group or class so everyone evolves together.

  20. The thing is, being good at schoolwork and regarded as the top of the class student doesn’t grant true confidence either. When our doing gets valued while our being remains unappreciated, we know that is not who we are. And the self-betrayal we go into to attain that recognition is deeply felt and gets ingrained.

  21. The pressure children are faced with to be a certain way and I feel it is becoming more intense as I observe my own children is huge. Children are being observed and tested in all other areas in the classroom e.g.how they respond to one another and how they work in groups however I feel the system has some way to go to treat this as equal to the marks on paper. There is so much more to us as children and adults and the way we are with ourselves in life which in my opinion is impossible to make comment by a result on a piece of paper.

  22. Could it be that the struggling student is not noticed or acknowledged because it will expose how children are being educated only works for some and not all, thus failing for many children and impeding on their life and ability to learn thereafter?

  23. I am half way through reading this article and something has jumped clear of the page for me. Amina mentions “that if you need help from teachers, you must be pretty stupid.”
    This simple sharing triggered in me a sense, understanding of how perfectionism was supported to become such a controlling factor of my life. What if every student feels this in some way and what if we are taught through or own personal senses that to ask for help means there is something wrong with us. What if to counter this we then begin to find ways to pretend to know, so we can be ‘perfect’ students, and we then continue this behavior into aldult hood. Which finds us being judgemental and disconnected from others, as we feel we are stupid, or not good enough if we need help?
    It has taken me quite some time to let go and allow others to support me and let go of trying to be perfect.

  24. Reading to the end, and also reading some of the other comments, I do wonder if dyslexia is a more difficult experience due to the anxiety that is felt with the condition. As it seems that as the anxiety, trust in self and confidence in self is again connected with the issues with dyslexia diminish. Is there a learning here for us all, that through connection, support and understanding, a student that feels this can deal with the problems that dyslexia presents as they know who they are, before the begin to learn.

  25. Trying to learn according to someone else’s pace and schedule, or even our own, where we ‘think we should have got to by now’ is stressful and so makes learning so much harder. We actually stall our own evolution by putting pressure on ourselves to have mastered something or got somewhere. I remember the squashed and squeezed feeling from school, and can see how I used anxiety – fear of not keeping up- to drive and push myself forward, just to stay afloat. It makes sense that we then carry these momentums into adulthood- constantly running to a timetable outside of one’s self and fearing not keeping up. And the not so great effect that this has had on the body.
    When we are met with someone who loves and understands us no matter where we’re at, and not trying to make us be where they’d like us to be, suddenly it’s easier to learn – there’s no trying, and the learning flows. The greatest most empowering thing is that we can be this way with ourselves first, giving ourselves permission to make mistakes and learning at our own pace.

  26. The evils of our education system and pursuit of ‘perfection in attainment’ exposed Amina. There was no preparation for life in what you experienced, only a constant disabling influence.
    Thank-you for sharing your words here – I can still feel the ‘protection’ and safety I sought in being the ‘perfect student’, so that I needn’t be so judged… We all need to let such notions go completely…

  27. The loveless ways in which we condemn and treat each other, never seem to amaze me Amina. When you ask: “How is it that we as the adults can choose not to truly acknowledge and connect to the children who are very clearly struggling around us? What are we not wanting to see?”
    I would suggest that we are not wanting to go anywhere near the ‘danger zone’ we’ve all permitted to still operate – a ‘zone’ where vulnerability exists, where we have to actually look at the quality in which we inter-relate and support each other… a ‘zone’ where our own ‘fallibilities’ (by outer-judged standards) may themselves be exposed…
    We are all protecting ourselves from truly going there and addressing the great evil at play in our way of education, and lack of truly holding and meeting another exactly where he or she stands. We are failing to acknowledge the lack of love inherent in all of this. And without such acknowledgement, we cannot move forward and establish another way – a way where connection comes first and all are held as equal, way before they ‘perform’ or do any such thing…

  28. “What if we treated everyone as equal at all times, no matter the age or abilities, but also had a deep understanding where one is at any given time?” Great question Amina, what a wonderful world it would be if this was so. As you have pointed out it is our responsibility to live lovingly and truthfully treating All equally; as you have done, thank you.

  29. Yeah, you’ve really made me realise just how ‘normal’ we’ve made the grading thing. I’m blown away by discovering just how much we have sold out to, given our power away to and/or simply accepted. I have measured myself against others my entire life as have the vast majority of fellow men and women, and in that I get to escape the responsibility of appreciating myself which would then offer everyone else an opportunity to do the same, And so we continue to participate in the cycle, until one of us says enough.

  30. This was a really lovely blog thank you Amina. The education system really can’t cater for how children are, which is naturally aware, sensitive and feeling based. To succeed in school you have to choose a certain way of thinking and that is, busy using recall memory ability, to get good grades on exams, to receive recognition from teachers and parents and this will satisfy as a form of love – but it doesn’t even come close to the amazingness that children already are which we constantly see but always try and put in a box so we don’t have to change our systems and our undeveloped ways!

  31. Wanting the whole world to conform to a system where everyone is under control is a huge protection. What is the world protecting against? Could it be that if connection with ourselves is something that is being lived, that the illusion of this world has to be exposed, and the pillars of life that have been formulated for the whole world to exist as less than the true fullness of who we are will crumble, and this world and its people could truly return to what is natural? Could it be the power of connection with our heart and our soul means we have to truly own up to the fact that the world that we know as of today, is not working? And with individuals like yourself Amina, who feels her way through life rather than through the conforming of systems, could it be that this reflection is simply not welcomed and is it not true that with the appreciation of our true value, that we are then able to observe what is truth and to keep living it, as it is just natural?

  32. Reading this article tonight I find myself pondering on how many children are left affected because, for whatever reason, they don’t find themselves in the ‘smart’ class.
    This would mean that over 90% of children are left with a feeling of less than that is likely to be carried into adult life. This is absolutely appalling, the education system as it is not only suppressing a students natural abilities, but is actually fostering separation and ultimately bullying.

  33. I was one of those children in the ‘lower’ classes, and for maths I was in the class lower than the lowest – there was three children in this class. When we place boxes on ourselves or others it completely caps any potential growth, the box being of expectations to be or conform to somewhere or something we are not. The more I accept who I am the more I allow that to grow and shine regardless if I can do complicated maths or not because there is so much more focus and appreciation on who I am rather than what I lack that another can bring. I don’t have to deliver everything to get a job done, only appreciate my part and another brings forward the skill I may not have.

  34. It is interesting being in a class of young children and seeing the standards that are set and benchmarks they are to meet. It is as though everyone should be at a certain level and you are either classed as above or below that level. The structure of the system doesn’t allow for anything else.

  35. It certainly isn’t one size fits all when it comes to learning and we all have different ways of learning that include how long we need to process new information. The current education system does not truly serve us.

  36. I was always in the stream of class that was considered intelligent. There was pride in this (from teachers, family and myself) and I was considered better than others. This was the norm for my childhood and it carried on into adulthood. I stuck with the comparison based on intelligence and the value of someone being measured by how smart they were. It was a toxic way to live and took quite a long time to be free of.

  37. I always struggled with any form of English, writing, reading, spelling but didn’t realise why until I was in my 30’s and was treating a patient who described his dyslexia that I realised the similarity. I then understood what was going on for my younger son, and later sat in while he was being assessed for dyslexia, this really was an eye opener, very interesting, and helped me understand my son and self much more.

  38. Our education system as it stands is clearly not working, levels of self harm are escalating in schools. Education at present is based on results with a clear lack of truly caring or even loving the individual, doing at the expense of being, and yes I completely agree, ‘Is it perhaps that our schooling system doesn’t currently accommodate the children that learn in a slightly different way?’

  39. There is an enormous pressure on children to be at a certain learning level at school and when they are not, often they are seen as not quite good enough or that there is something wrong. I feel it’s wonderful that schools support children and get the resources that help them learn the most but there is a stigma and a culture around it that needs to be looked at. I remember the annoyance in some teachers and family members eyes when I just didn’t understand something I needed to learn. This would then make it harder because I would be so anxious and nervous to not get it wrong. I also looked at the belief I had that I was stupid, as I heard it so much growing up. Occasionally now if I was to think of doing extra study as an adult I feel a pang of nervousness rise up, however majority of the time I feel a steadiness and confidence in whatever I need to do.

  40. “What I have been told (and seen as someone with dyslexia) is that the condition makes it difficult for the person to learn the same way as others, and they have difficulty in reading.” If this was truly taken into account for the bigger problem it is in education it would change the delivery of education. But as it stands now we need education and awareness within the teaching of the education system itself however, for now if you are aware make that change yourself and provide the support you require.

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