My Long Journey to the Answer – Part 3

My Long Journey to the Answer – Part 3

Posted on April 13, 2015

3 comments 2003 Views

Why should it have to take courage?

By Carol Dennis

I’ve had a full month to digest the report that came out of my learning assessment at the Education Evaluation Center (EEC). That time has been filled with questions, self-reflection and new insights. 

(Click here to read Part 1)    (Click here to read Part 2)

There are so many thoughts going through my mind all at once. I’ll try to sort them out and put them into words.

The quality and breadth of the report

I interviewed several past clients of the EEC for my original article about the services offered there. They all talked about how well their reports were received at the schools they attended and were told that the EEC creates the most comprehensive and helpful reports the schools receive. I now understand why. Not only does my report define a specific diagnosis and detail the supports I might need to be successful, the EEC staff also evaluated my interpersonal skills, like eye contact, and the appropriateness of my interactions with them. They looked at me as a whole person and articulated clearly in the report how I relate to the world around me. I found their reflections very insightful, and some of them, a little funny. How well they saw me - and with no judgement.

Feeling like I belong

For the past 15 years I have worked in the area of research. When working in groups, I am often the only person in the room without a college degree. Since going through the assessment and finding out my potential, I feel like I really do belong in these meetings and that my contributions are valuable. My colleagues have always said they valued my input, but because of what I learned in the assessment, now I value it as well.

Because of this, I have decided that there is no need for me to go back to school just to get a degree. And I'm now open to the idea of going for fun! If I’d like to study sign language again, or get back to singing and finally learn to read music, or study comparative religions (a secret passion of mine), I know I’ll have the supports I’ll need to do it well.

The big take-away – Why should it have to take courage?

The most surprising question that came up for me in this process came from the response I got from friends and co-workers that “it took courage” to do what I did. This message came from almost everyone who wrote a comment on the blog, sent me a personal email or stopped me in the hall. They commented on the courage it took to do the assessment and then the additional courage to write about it in a public forum. Courage? They are right - it did take courage, but why should it have to?

It was a funny process, more than 20 years ago, to get to the point of surrendering to the idea that I needed glasses. But no one told me how brave I was to get my eyes examined and to wear glasses in public. Why should finding out that I need extra time to do exams or reading assignments, and then sharing that, take courage? What is it in our culture that makes it so scary to admit that we are less than perfect and might need help with some things?

I have always been taught that it is human to be less than perfect, yet we are afraid to show our humanness for fear of – what? Why should it take courage to admit we have limitations? This is the question I’m left with.

I struggled in private for so many years, believing there were things I shouldn’t even try to do, rather than finding out exactly what my challenges are and learning what accommodations I need to help me be successful.

What was I so afraid of? As it turns out, I was afraid of my own shadow, my own self-doubts, and what other people would think of me. So, from the other side of this journey, I can say two things; 1) I wish I had done this earlier; and 2) it’s never too late.

This exploration has been interesting and very worthwhile. I want to thank the staff at the Education Evaluation Center for being so kind and so good at what they do. And thank you for taking the time to read this and, as you go out into the world, I wish you - courage.


Thank you for sharing your experiences, Carol. We all learned along with you.

Pattie J

Posted Apr 16, 2015 by Pattie J

These stories are so important to share with others. They inspire us and truly warm the heart to remind us we are all human and we all possess strengths and will to grow. Thank you for your honest and truly warming story.

Posted Apr 23, 2015 by Mandy

For drawbacks or deficits that aren't readily visible, people are often tempted to pretend expertise or even encouraged to "fake it 'til you make it" rather than admit that help is needed. Your stories of the negative impact of hidden deficits or beliefs in one's inabilities emphasizes the importance of honest self reflection and not paying too much attention to societal expectations - easier said than done. I believe there is a high percentage of people who never live up to their potential because of low self confidence and thinking they're "not good enough" because they don't quite fit into the expected norm in our educational system. What a waste of talent (and self-satisfaction and pride) if people don't get help overcoming learning difficulties so they can truly soar. I'm glad you went through the series of tests at the Education Evaluation Center to understand yourself and your learning and interactional styles much better and to readjust your self image and bolster your confidence. I've considered you a high-flyer ever since I met you, Carol. Your perspective and your talents are very appreciated.

Bonnie Morihara

Posted Apr 23, 2015 by Bonnie Morihara

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