By Yamila García
The worst mistakes are made when we don’t trust ourselves. I am fully aware that self-confidence is not an easy thing to build. But I also know that there are some tricks that we can use to build it little by little. At every beginning of the semester (or anything else) I find myself in a situation of overwhelm and despair, convinced that I will not be able to overcome the challenges that come my way. And every end of a semester, surprised once again, I tell myself: I don’t know how it happened, but you did it! Anyone would think that after the same thing happens repeatedly, one would have learned… but no, it doesn’t work that way. You remember, but somehow you manage to think that those previous times you overcame everything you did, was by accident, luck, or whatever but your hard work or intelligence. Considering that this always happens and it is statistically complicated that luck is what every semester makes us overcome all the challenges, I think it extremely necessary to force ourselves to remember and to try to be objective.
Now, every time I think I’m not going to be able to face the next challenge, I ask myself: This feeling is the same thing I experienced last semester, right? That felt impossible, right? What evidence do I have to think that I cannot achieve it? How is this different from everything I have already lived and overcome? And even, what would be the problem if I couldn’t get over it? I can always try again. It doesn’t have to be perfect! In this new beginning of the semester, as ugly as every beginning sounds, I hope that you can be your own best friends and remind yourself that you have already achieved many things that at first seemed impossible, and that you will do it again this semester. Put sticky notes everywhere, set alarms on your cell phones, and write on your notebooks and blackboards whatever reminds you how brave you were in the past. Here’s to another semester that ends up surprising us because we did it again!
By Yamila García
I am a morning person. I love the fresh air and enjoy how quiet and clean is everything early in the morning. The morning feels like a blank page, like an opportunity to do things right and go home with that wonderful feeling of having completed our responsibilities for the day. When I have the possibility to organize my days to my liking, I always decide to put all my tasks in as early as possible to finish the day earlier and not “cut” the day. It’s as if my mind needs to check all the items on my to-do list to get to relax. So, when for example I have an activity at 3 PM and nothing before that, it is almost impossible for me to focus on doing something else until that box has been checked. It feels like I’m “on hiatus” until I complete those tasks and it is a great loss of time and energy for me.
Some people may think: that I am overthinking things or that I am exaggerating. But it is my reality and that of many neurodivergents. We think and function differently than neurotypicals, and this should not be ignored. And I’m not saying it shouldn’t be ignored because I don’t want it to be, but because we could all benefit from a world where our differences are respected and taken advantage of. We are asked to swim when in fact we have wings and can fly. No matter how much effort we make, no matter how much will we put into learning to swim, it will never be the way in which we can get the most out of our abilities. We swim every day in a world that was not designed for us.
Be kind to your neurodivergent friend, what is natural for you is more than challenging for them. This is the reason why many of us are tired all the time. It is exhausting. Every day we have to adapt the way we communicate to the way neurotypicals do. The same with how we learn, we have to accept and adapt to how things are taught in the classroom because it is implicitly assumed that we all learn in the same way. We adapt how we actually feel about something, to how we are expected to feel, so as not to be once again branded as weird. And the worst part is that we are evaluated as if we are on an equal footing with others. What I am saying has nothing to do with abilities, but with the conditions and environment in which we are required to function.