Enjoy Your Uniqueness

The fact remains that we all process information differently. I go back to that word we use so often and mention the word, “Just,” as in when people say, I don’t understand why you “Just” don’t get it.
The word “Just” is used as if to simplify the action. However, this is a word that “Just” doesn’t fit sometimes.

We live in a constantly evolving world in which we are always learning and always training. In some cases, the subjects we learn are easy to grasp and the lessons are simple to understand. Other lessons can be more problematic or difficult to understand. Neither is an indication that someone is better or less than.

Look at technology for example. Back when I was a kid, The Old Man brought home our family’s first VCR. As simple as the VCR was to me, The Old Man was stumped. He asked questions about the machine.
“What does this button do?”
I couldn’t figure out what The Old Man couldn’t figure out about the VCR. “It’s a simple machine,” I thought to myself. 
“Why can’t he just figure it out?”

Enter the world of technology which we live in now and I find myself asking similar questions, like, “What does this button do?”
Enter some young kid that can’t see why I just don’t understand.
(Understand?)
I am not tech savvy by any means. This does not make me more or less intelligent. Instead, this only means certain topics are foreign to me, which means I will need extra help to retain information in a way that my mind can relate to it

The truth is we all learn in an individualized pattern. This is how our mind stores information. We all relate to terms differently. For example: Some find math simple. Some love math. And me, I never did well in math. I struggled in math and quite honestly, I struggled in nearly all of my classes, which is partly why I never went to class to begin with.

This was not a problem of intelligence but more accurately, I had to find a different way to relate to the information. I can recall trying to learn different math problems when I was young. And to be clear, I don’t even want to think about what I’d have to go through if I was a kid today and attack this so-called “New math.” The name alone is enough to cause an anxiety attack for someone like me.

I remember teachers and tutors and their lack of patience as if to say, “Why can’t you just get it?” Just add the numbers. Just subtract this or multiply that. Simple addition is not always so simple because the word simple is nothing more than a relative term. 

As part of my day job, I’ve had to train new employees with some on the job training. The last thing I ever say is, “Just do it like this,” because I don’t know the way someone else views a problem.
The word “Just” is used as if to simplify a foreign topic to someone that might find the information difficult. Secondly, the word can be degrading; almost as if to say, “What are ya, stupid?”

Just . . .
Just stop.
Just don’t do that anymore.
Why didn’t you just do it like this?

Okay, let’s tell someone that is color blind, just learn to see in color.
Tell someone with food poisoning, “Just don’t throw up.”
Oh, you have a cold?
Just don’t cough anymore. 

You have a learning disability?
Just figure it out.
You have depression?
Just be happy
What’s that you say?
You feel uncomfortable?
You feel awkward?
You feel as if you don’t understand or you feel lost?
You think you’re stupid?
Well, just don’t think that way and you’ll be just fine.

The problem with the above list is none of this makes sense. The reason why is because none of the above are simple items because simple is a relative term.

We all learn and adapt to information in a unique way.
By the way, none of this is indicative of intelligence. I struggled for most of my life with all the above. I have classroom fears. I have learning discomforts because as a child, I struggled with this idea they call learning disabilities.

Yet, here I am, scripting mental health awareness programs and sitting in meetings with different trade unions in NYC. I certainly never believed enough in myself that I would expect to be standing in front of college classes to give lectures on mental illness.

Stupid is a state of mind. (I hate that word, by the way.)
To be dumb means lacking intelligence. (I hate that word too.)
Inarticulate, illiterate, uneducated, brainless, dizzy, dumb, dimwitted or idiotic and imbecilic are all descriptive words than can literally destroy the heart of someone that “Just” wants to learn or feel as if they fit in this world.

No one ever asks for struggles but yet, they come with life. As well, no one asks to be held behind the cage of stigma. No one ever asks to be stupid or ugly or sick or uncomfortable.
Imagine what we could do for each other if we shared a sense of understanding and realized that sometimes, life is “Just” not the same for everyone. Imagine if instead of shame, we could teach people to enjoy their uniqueness.

Now, that would be a really cool trick!

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