As a child, math was one of those subjects that made me totally freeze. It may as well have been in a foreign language. The teacher would call out my name to give an answer and my mind would just go ‘deer in headlights’ blank. No matter how hard I tried, I just could not access what they were talking about.
So, for a long, long, long time, I believed I was stupid. I couldn’t write my b’s and d’s like the other kids. I still have to really think about it. When I write or type, I put most numbers and letters backwards. Today they call it dyslexia.
Some of us had the good fortune to have had one teacher who made a difference. Mine was my grade 9 math teacher, Mrs. Whitton. This gentle, kind and caring woman changed my life. When she looked at me, she didn’t see a stupid young woman. She saw someone full of possibility and saw that her job as a teacher was to unlock my learning style that was clearly different from the other children.
Mrs. Whitton took me home and tutored me, patiently learning how I learned. She made her way into my world and got me to a place of calm clarity where I could approach numbers with curiosity rather than terror. And soon I became one of the top students in my class. I later went on to do my Master of Business Administration degree and much of my early business career focused on understanding and working with numbers.
I tell this story often to young people whom I meet who struggle because their learning style is different. Our education system calls them learning impaired and makes them wrong for being different. I just watched Scott Sonnon’s TEDx talk (link below) and although my circumstances were not nearly as dramatic as his, I am grateful that there are others out there embracing the difference that we be.
Would you like to know how to free yourself from what we call performance anxiety where we literally freeze, become paralyzed, seemingly unable to access our awareness in the moment.
When we try so hard to fit in, to be like everyone else, we give up the very core of our being. What if our gift to this planet lies in simply being who we are? What if there is no more effort than that?
I never told Mrs. Whitton about the difference she made or the gratitude I have for her for ability to see beyond the obvious; to really look at me; to see ME. So if you know of her family or are connected to her in any way, will you please let her know for me?
Please take the 15 minutes to watch this very moving talk by Scott and share his story (and mine if you are moved by it too) so that others who are also different may take comfort and celebrate the difference we be? Performance anxiety be gone!