There were many times in my life where I felt I didn't belong and they were in close relation to not only my identity, but the identity of the people around me. I felt like I didn't belong growing up in Serbia as a person with learning disabilities. I discovered I had dyslexia and dysgraphia when my teacher thought that I was stupid because on my tests I finished almost none of the questions and when writing, I mixed Cyrillic and Latin alphabets, as well as printed and cursive letters. The real reason I felt like I didn't fit in is because learning disabilities are very rare in Serbia, and the tests are conducted in a mental hospital, where I later had to visit a therapist. The therapist banned me from writing in cursive to help me use only one style of writing at once. People not only saw me differently, but also treated me like there was something wrong with me, especially the teachers. The only two things that my therapist told them to do to make this process easier was to give me extensions on reading and writing assignments and to test me orally, instead of me struggling through reading and writing it. My teachers kept everything the same, until I told them “Imagine I fell down the stairs and broke both my arms, how would you test me then?” Her answer was: “Well, orally of course.” At the end I got her to test me orally and I got a 100, but I never changed her mind. I think that happened because she was a person with a fixed mindset and not accepting a change.
I’ve come across a lot of people like my teacher over the years. They think that everyone functions the same and that kind of thinking is the reason that some people struggle with changing their view. Even if all the information is pointed against their argument , they would stubbornly stick to their own opinions. I, on the other hand, have the adapting mindset where I can change my views if I get good evidence. As an article from MindShifts states “ It is the belief that qualities can change and that we can develop our intelligence and abilities. The opposite of having a growth mindset is having a fixed mindset, which is the belief that intelligence and abilities cannot be developed. The reason that this definition of growth mindset is important is that research has shown that this specific belief leads people to take on challenges, work harder and more effectively, and persevere in the face of struggle, all of which makes people more successful learners. ”
These mindsets are not only opposites, but they are both necessary to balance out. This is a part of the way my identity was shaped, as a person with learning disabilities, since I had to change the way I looked at things and the opinions I had on learning, as well as basically anything I knew before about myself.
The lesson I learned from this experience is that our identity can change in a moment, and we would never expect that, but we have to accept the person we have become, and trust ourselves enough. By that I mean trust our brains, our bodies, our flaws, our disabilities, our reasons, and our hope.