“You’re a nice person, but...”

By: Martha Chavez

There are moments in life we remember with such clarity that they become ingrained in our minds. Sometimes they are moments of great joy, but most often, they are moments that, years later, still make us cringe.

One of these moments happened to me last year during my annual review at the small non-profit I had worked for the past three years.  After about an hour or more of conversation, I learned one positive thing about myself - that I was a “nice” person. But this trait, according to my supervisor, came with a pretty big but. “…but, you seem distracted and unfocused. You make a lot of mistakes you shouldn’t be making at your level of experience.” My heart sank to the floor. I felt embarrassed, sad, disappointed - I could feel the tears welling in my eyes. I’ll never forget it.

Four years ago I was officially diagnosed with severe dyslexia with ADHD. This means I can read over things I’ve written and never notice I switched letters (grammar and spelling being pretty important requirements in my field of communication). I have a hard time reading and understanding things. I am inconsistent and may have trouble finding the right words to express my thoughts and feelings. It also means I get anxious to the point of nausea when I don’t understand a task or request (which happens pretty regularly) or when I’m put on the spot.

Perfect job candidate, right?

Because I rarely talk about it, it’s easy for many to simply assume I’m a horrible speller who doesn’t check her work, isn’t all there sometimes and tends to talk in choppy sentences. I’ve also heard many people discuss how, for example, ADHD is made-up, or something people use to scapegoat laziness.

While my self-worth is always in question, I try remind myself that I am worthy, and that we all are. We each have something unique to offer. I believe we are all here for a reason and with a purpose. I’m still trying to figure out what I bring.

But I try to take things one day at a time.  I’m very lucky to have a small group of people in my life who love me, encourage me and believe in me (even at my worst). It is with their support that I feel hopeful that I can redefine my perceived weaknesses into strengths and that starts with being honest with future employers about exactly who I am.  

I’ve read so many encouraging stories on So Worth Loving - it’s a little piece of the Internet that comforts me. It makes me smile to see this community of strong individuals share their stories, and I wanted to share mine in hopes that others who might feel they way I do know they are not alone. This learning disability will not be the end nor will it determine my worth. If you’re struggling with something similar, know this: we might be slower, we might make mistakes, but we are good people who mean well, are smart and so worth loving. To your worthy life.