Do you have a hero?
I did growing up. I mean, I’m not completely grown up now. I’m sixteen.
But when I was younger, when I was just figuring out what it was like to be dyslexic, I felt pretty alone—until my mom sat me down at her computer and we looked up famous people who were also dyslexic.
I almost didn’t believe it. Names like Albert Einstein and JFK and Thomas Edison and Ann Bancroft and Jay Leno… these were the faces that popped up. Really? I was skeptical. I mean if they really had dyslexia, how could they do the kinds of things I knew they had done? But they became my heroes. But they were like pie-in-the-sky far away heroes, way out of my league.
But anyway, I went along on my way and year after year passed, and I figured out my own way of doing things (like writing an “R” on my right hand and an “L” on my left. I still do that when I’m driving. Or just spending a lot more time learning things than my friends do.) And eventually I realized I was not just bad at everything, but kind of good at some things and even really good at some other things. Anyway, I got a little more confident.
And then high school started. And math and biology and chemistry. (I mean how is a dyslexic supposed to make any sense of all those symbols?) And I admit I was feeling a little sorry for myself. One day my mom pointed me to this poster we had made when I was younger with pictures of the successful dyslexics I was telling you about earlier (and a bunch of others) and she said something like, “I wonder how they did it?” I said something like, “probably smarter.” And she said no. And I said, “yeah, right!” And she said, “Yeah! Write! Write them and ask them!”
How Did They Do It?
And you know what? I did. I didn’t expect anyone to write back so I was shocked when people did. People like writer John Irving and arctic explorer Ann Bancroft, comedian Jay Leno and a royal princess.
Heroes Are Important
And they told me I was going to be okay. They said I’d just need to work harder. Things might take me longer, but was that so bad? They also said I’d probably figured out that my brain was probably more creative at some things because it was different and that I probably wasn’t as afraid of trying new things (and failing) as others because of all the experience I had with failing. That’s why there are a lot of dyslexic inventors.
So I guess what I’m trying to tell you is that heroes are important. Who are yours Keep them in sight because you might find out that they’re a lot more like you than you thought.
About the Author
Aidan Colvin is an eleventh grader at Wake Early College STEM High School in Raleigh, North Carolina. With some assistance from his mom, he just finished writing the true story “Looking for Heroes: One Boy, One Year, 100 Letters.” (Available in print, as an eBook and in audio on Amazon).