When I was first diagnosed with a Learning Disability, it felt like I was given a lemon of a brain. I tasted the sourness of struggling with math, typing my shoes, and social skills. I wanted to spit my lemon out! Most of my peers didn’t have lemons but sweet oranges. Learning and social skills came so easily to them. I often felt so different because I had a lemon and they had oranges. I wasn’t able to trade my lemon in for an orange, a lime, or any other type of citrus fruit. I also couldn’t hide my lemon in the small school district that I went to. The community was close knit and welcoming if you were one of them. My lemon made me different and I became self conscious.
Everyone expected me to be happy and positive with my lemon. People would tell me when life gives you lemons make lemonade. I wondered how it could be possible to turn my lemon into lemonade. All I could see was a sour lemon. Thankfully I had teachers who gave me ways to learn and parents who didn’t give up on me.
Slowly my grades began to improve, and I began to learn. I was put into regular classes in Science and Social studies. I received accommodations such as extended test time, and having the test read aloud. Being in regular education classes with neurotypical peers wasn’t always easy. Many of my neurotypical peers thought that I was spoiled because I was getting accommodations. Soon their sweet oranges began to turn sour with envy, thinking I was getting the answers or easy work. I often heard ‘I wish I had a lemon so I could get all the answers.’ All I wanted was to have an orange. Neurotypical peers also lumped with other lemons in learning support that struggled more with reading and behavior issues.
The acid of the lemon sat in my stomach making me sick . I was ill with frustration, sadness anger and jealousy. Slowly I began to add the sugar of success. Success for me was finding out what I was good at such as reading, writing and public speaking. Other small victories were being placed in all regular classes except for math and resource room and making honor roll. Larger wins such as graduating from college and finding a job came later. Adding too much sugar made it too sweet and created a toxic positivity. When I would reach out to people to share the struggles of having a disability people would tell me I was too negative or to lighten up. It is an unrealistic expectation for a person to be happy all the time. It was okay for me to feel frustrated when I studied hard and failed a test or a class or when someone rejected me. All feelings are valid, it’s what you do with them that matters.
I had to add water to dilute the lemons and the sugar. Adding water creating the perfect mixture of lemonade for me. I had the tartness of lemons that represented the difficulties of having a Learning Disability. The sugar was the sweetness of unexpected blessings, that I never thought would have happened.
My lemon didn’t go away when I graduated from college or got a job. I will always have a lemon and the challenges it creates. I can’t change the lemon but I can turn it into lemonade. Life often gives people lemons. How have you turned your lemon into lemonade?