By Guest Blogger Susan Reynolds
I remember that day in elementary school very well. I was taken out of class and brought to the office to answer a bunch of questions. I was told that I was being tested; for what, I didn’t know. One of the tests asked me to provide synonyms for words such as big, hot, cold or small; I have never forgotten that. After the test was done, I felt pretty good, but confused. Why would I need to take a test like that?
Then I got my answer.
Shortly after that day, I was diagnosed with a learning disability (LD) and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). I didn’t fully understand what I was being told, but I did know that it made me different. Who wants to be different as a kid? For that matter, even as an adult, being different can add challenges to life.
For years, I struggled to fit in; to accept myself. With every success, there seemed to be a setback. Fighting against who I was only made my life more difficult. Through a lot of hard work, lessons learned and acceptance, I started seeing the positives of being LD/ADHD.
One of them is that I am incredibly creative. I don’t mean that in a fine arts kind of way, such as painting or writing music. I am “life creative.” I can problem solve in a matter of seconds. I see the big picture, and the small parts that make up the big picture. All of my life I have been creative because my learning style is completely different from most of my peers. I believe it helps me stand out.
My heart and mind are open to anything and everyone. I remember feeling judged and excluded as a child, and even later in life. I didn’t like that feeling, and try not to make others feel that way. I want to reach out to my community and do something positive. My open heart and mind allow me to push aside pre-conceived notions and truly give back.
If you like enthusiasm and spontaneity, then sit by me. My husband tells me every day that his life became more exciting the moment we met. I always ask why and he says, “Because I never know what’s next; I just know it will be fun.” I am so excited about everything. I am life’s biggest cheerleader and I am always looking for a fun, daily adventure.
Energy…I have so much of it. Oh, and I can hyper-focus on multiple projects, which affords me the ability to accomplish great tasks and give back to my military community.
My disabilities became my abilities; and I have put them to good use.
I advocate for military families, military pediatric healthcare and for myself. I take on incredible tasks and demand change. Armed with enthusiasm, spontaneity, creativity and energy, I can do anything!
On January 22nd, I was named Pope Air Force Base Military Spouse of the Year with a chance to compete for the next round – Air Force Spouse of the Year! This opportunity will open doors for me and for military families. I get to be a part of the solution and I can’t wait. You can vote for me by visiting http://msoy.militaryspouse.com/profile/92 today, February 5th!
I learned to see my disability as my ability and I have never been happier. Using my energy, quick thinking and creativity to advocate for military families as part of the Military Special Needs Network (MSNN) and through other activities is just what I was meant to do. I could have focused on the negatives about having LD/ADHD, but why do that? I chose to honor that little girl that didn’t understand why she was being tested.
My path to accepting my disability hasn’t always been easy. I still struggle some days, but that’s expected. As long as I remember my purpose, I know I will be okay.
Oh, and my response to the synonym test for the word small – it was petite.
You can read more about Susan’s story at http://usodep.blogs.govdelivery.com/2012/12/05/my-story-susan-reynolds/.