LEARNING & EDUCATION

Learning to Love Myself: Disabilities and All

Learning Disability

Julia Pelaez

My learning disabilities are Dyslexia, Dysgraphia & Dyscalculia

Hi! My name is Julia and I live in Brooklyn, New York. I love coffee, succulents, baking, and my learning disabilities. I have three learning disabilities; Dyslexia, Dysgraphia, and Dyscalculia. These are all words that I needed help spelling while writing this. These learning disabilities mean that I struggle with reading, writing, math, and overall absorbing and processing of information.

As an adult, I have learned to love my differences. I have become a teacher and an advocate for disabled students who are trying to navigate themselves in an educational system that creates unsafe places for students who learn differently. My learning disabilities gave me a voice in my darkest times. They helped me to become the person that I desperately needed when I was younger, and they taught me to see the world in a different light. But I didn't always think like this when I was younger; I opted for self-hate, fear, and denial. It was just easier than my other option, which was acceptance. My mission in life was to sail under the radar, never ask for help, and pray that none of my friends ever found out that I had learning disabilities.

Learning to accept my learning disabilities

As a child, if someone had asked me whether or not I wanted to become a teacher when I grew up my answer would have with been, “No.” How could a child with learning disabilities, a speech impediment, and no confidence when it came to having authority in the classroom become a teacher? That was my mindset and my way of life before I found my love of history. The moment that I started to take history and anthropology classes in high school was the moment that changed my life forever. I began to be excited about school and the mysteries my teachers were discussing. I fell in love with folklore and mythology; these stories gave me wings that helped me explore the past. The historical figures that I loved and spent hours researching didn't care that I had learning disabilities, so why should I?

Releasing Fears, anxieties & self-hatred

Studying history let me let go of all of my fears and anxieties and self-hatred. After a while, I started to live the life that I deserved. I was able to travel to Hawaii to do anthropology research and fall in love with the setting sun and the smell of the ocean. I was able to live in Ireland doing archeology research and spend time discovering the stories and artifacts that I had fallen in love with all those years ago.

Accepting Myself

I now work as a history educator for the Brooklyn Public Library's archive called Brooklyn Collection. I spend my life teaching children history and exploring primary sources helping them uncover the secrets of the past while also helping them realize that they can achieve their dreams, just like I did. I am still on a journey with my learning disabilities, but slowly, every day, I am learning how to love myself... disabilities and all.

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