I was never one to fit in. I was the shortest, I was plump, I had jam jar glasses, weird hair and braces. When I got older and went to university to study journalism not much changed. Instead of trying to fit in I did the opposite, I stood out more. I resorted to long black skirts, a lot of velvet fabrics and t-shirts with geeky images, my favourite being a shirt that said “Not everything in Holland is flat” (yes, right across the chest).
All the way through journalism school I struggled. I didn’t fit in, I made mistakes, fought with spelling, and could not seem to write without making mistakes. This seemed to be a theme throughout everything and finally in my third year I took a dyslexia test and scored positive for a mild form. Luckily it didn’t affect my reading skills (I ate books or breakfast) and I could still write (I mean, I made it through my third year of journalism), but it was enough to make writing hard.
At first I cried and felt defeated, like I saw my whole dream go out the window. Somewhere in my heart I’d always known, but I really wanted to be a writer. My dream was crushed. If I couldn’t write, what could I do? What was I supposed to do? Luckily the woman who tested me was amazing. She planned in extra sessions to work with me on spelling and grammar. I won’t lie to you, it was hard and frustrating and more than once I felt like turning my exercise sheets into paper airplanes. Again, the teacher proved amazing, “Look, having dyslexia doesn’t mean you’re stupid, it just means your brain is wired differently. It means it will take you longer before spelling anchors in your brain. You’ll have to work much harder than others to master spelling.”
It took me a while to get to grips with this, but I did. I graduated from journalism school and then went on to study Celtic Languages and Culture to learn Old Irish, Modern Irish, Welsh and Gaulish. I wanted to prove to myself there were no limits to what I could do if I put my mind to it. I went on to live in the UK and become the editor-in-chief of a bestselling magazine. Me. A Dutch girl. I found out through reading and writing that English is much easier for me compared to my native language.
While living in the UK I started eating vegan, started running and when I got back to the Netherlands I got into triathlons. I was the one who got picked last during sports in school. Now I’ve done two triathlons and I’m planning on doing much more next year.
This has a become the theme of my life. I could have given up at any time, but I didn’t. People who told me I couldn’t do things could have easily triple-dog-dared me. My own struggles have become my challenges and I face them head-on every single day. I’ve created coping strategies. I know how to deal with the dyslexia, how to work with it and still write amazing copy and help my clients rock, without making mistakes. I’ve started my own blog, wrote a book, and I run my own business. Oh and in case you’re wondering I’m still wearing my geeky shirts, my favourite being “cutethulhu”.
So yes, I still fight. Every single day still. I fight against my own gremlins who tell me I suck. I fight against the opinions of people who tell me I have to get “a real job”, who ask me when I will start to eat “normal” again, and that I should dress as an adult. Is it tiring? Yes. Do I want to crawl in a corner and cry? Hell yes. Do I feel like giving up sometimes? You betcha. Do I give up? Never.
Having had to fight every single day to get where I am right now makes me appreciate it all the more. I know it’s a cliché, but it’s true nonetheless. I got there, I brought myself to the point where I am right now. I run a business. I write articles, books, and help clients rock their jobs by helping them with their copywriting. Me. The Dutch Dyslexic girl. In English. Now if that’s not badass I don’t know what is.
Stephanie is a freelance copywriter, blogger, lover of science ficition, book nerd and an avid traveler living in the Netherlands blogging on luthien.org and running a business. She wants to inspire people to live the life they love and believes you can do anything when you set your mind to it. Follow Stephanie online at: Twitter | Instagram |Pinterest |Facebook