Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Never, Ever, Ever, Ever, EVER Give Up!

So, I am dyslexic. Surprisingly I didn't discover this little tid-bit about myself until after I graduated from college with a Bachelor's in English/Lit.  You may think I must've been pretty surprised by the news.  I wasn't.  Actually, it suddenly explained a lot of things for me.  Such as my early difficulty with coordination; or never being able to tell my left hand from my right. My unconsciously mixing up "b" with "d" and "p" with "q,"  or my reading along for a good paragraph or two with no recollection of what I'd just read--how those darn words would inexplicably scramble themselves up on the page, particularly when I was tired.  Yep, it all started to make sense.  On account of these difficulties, it wasn't until I was in 6th grade--6th grade!--that I finished my very first chapter book all the way through.  (The Witch of Blackbird Pond.  Totally LOVED, btw!) 

Anyway, it was my husband who first pointed out the possibility that I might be dyslexic.  Countless nights of taking turns reading from The Book of Mormon (Yep, I'm one of those Mormons . . . www.lds.org . . .check it out, you'll be glad!) before bed, must've given me away, I'm sure.  But it wasn't until I looked dyslexia up for myself on wikipedia one day that I actually believed him.  As I read down the list of symptoms it felt like someone had climbed inside my brain and plucked out every frustration and struggle and insecurity I'd had with reading and writing in school growing up and then wrote an article about it. 

When I told my mom about my discovery, she simply shrugged and said, "I already knew you were dyslexic."  As it turned out, my favorite elementary school teacher, Mrs. Miriam Waddingham, had discovered my dyslexia when I was in 4th grade.  But rather than telling me or getting me help, if they even offered help for such problems back then, she simply told my mom not to mention a word of it to me.

Some of you may be gasping or cringing at this teacher's actions, and perhaps even thinking "poor you, Hannah!" but don't worry.  There's a reason Mrs. Waddingham was one of my favorite teachers and that reason is because, regardless of my struggles as a student, I knew she believed in me--she always made that very clear. The following is just one more manifestation of that fact.

 As a 10-year-old--long before that really--I knew I was meant to be a writer.  I was in love with writing and story telling, and Mrs. Waddingham knew it too.  I loved making up stories! That love was the one thing pushing me to overcome all the struggles I had with reading and writing in order to become a true writer one day.   According to my mom, Mrs. Waddingham also knew that I had little to no confidence in my ability to accomplish my writing goals because of my difficulties with writing.  And that was her reason for keeping my dyslexia from me.

Well, turns out Mrs. Waddingham, and my mom (thanks mom!), were absolutely right.  Looking back on my 10-year-old self, had I known about something as concrete as dyslexia standing in my way, it would've crushed all my writing dreams.  I'm not so sure I would've had the courage to keep going.  I might've simply given up and found another, less satisfying but far more obtainable dream to work towards.  But what a tragedy that would've been!  Thanks to this very inspired teacher--and many others since then--not only did I keep pushing forward and make it through college with a literary degree, but I am about to publish my very first novel!  Without dyslexia, that's an incredible accomplishment, but with it, well, second only to a wonderful marriage and a beautiful boy, it is my greatest accomplishment.  After all the work, I can confidently say that I am very proud to put my name on it. 

Anyway, I guess what I'm trying to say by revealing this bit of my past to you is that 1) NOTHING is impossible, and 2) NOTHING has to stand between you and achieving whatever it is you've set out to achieve. Trust in yourself and God, learn to work as hard as you need to, and everything will turn out spectacularly! You'll be amazed at what you're capable of overcoming when you want something badly enough.  If you don't believe me, here's another story that will inspire you to keep moving forward. 

Finally, Henry Ford said the following: "Whatever you think you can, or can't do, you're right."  And in my experience, that has been absolutely true.

So, spend your energy believing you can, and then never, ever, ever, ever, EVER give up!


  1. Love this. Don't know how many times I give something up before I even try cause I just come up with too many reasons "why not" to make it worth a try. Need to get rid of that side of my brain and go for it anyway. Good or Bad its the learning part that counts! You are amazing.

  2. This is a great post! Thanks for you sharing and inspiring me!

  3. Thanks for sharing this! Mrs. Waddingham was one of my favorite teachers too. :) You really should be proud of what you've accomplished. I think it's awesome!

  4. That is amazing. Thanks for the inspiration!

  5. Thanks, ladies! I'm glad you enjoyed the post.


  6. Thanks for sharing this Hannah! I am so proud of you! You've done and will continue to do amazing things...I have no doubt!

  7. You're awesome Hannah! I was surprised when I learned this about you. I remember you always having a story (or play) you were writing! I'm so glad that you never gave up on your dreams, and that you are sharing your story. Because I know it will have an impact on a lot of people out there who either say they can't do something or that it would just be easier not to. You are an amazing person. Loves!

  8. Thanks, Shai! I really appreciate your comment. It's been a lot of work, but I wouldn't change a thing. :)