Some unique characteristics of my upbringing
Some unique characteristics of my upbringing and development are my triumph over dyslexia, being homeschooled, and having a spiritual focus to my life.
As a small child, I struggled greatly with reading and writing because I suffer from double deficit dyslexia — a rare form of dyslexia that involves both slow processing speed, and poor phonological coding. At the age of nine, I could only read thirteen words per minute at an early first grade level. It did not help things that my parents got divorced at around this same time. I decided to turn things around, so my mother and I worked together everyday to increase my reading comprehension and speed. At first it was quite frustrating, as each new word was a struggle, and because I was so far behind all of my friends. Thankfully, our efforts paid off, and at the age of eleven, my reading ability had gone up to grade level, but we did not stop there. We continued to work together until my reading was substantially above grade level. Right now, I can read five-hundred words per minute. This experience taught me the value of perseverance for the sake of long term improvement. I value reading highly because it was so difficult for me in the first place.
Another factor that has shaped my development is that I was homeschooled from kindergarten to eighth grade. Because I was homeschooled, I developed much closer bonds with my older brothers, who were also homeschooled, as well as with my peers at Hickman Charter School, the group we belonged to. This was a unique experience because there were only eight other people in my grade. I would see them often because we would take the same sorts of classes — Quantum Camp Science, Art with Teresa, and a variety of classes at the learning center about things like creative writing, poetry, and history. Though I did receive a lot of instruction, homeschooling was largely self-paced — there were no grades given or detentions threatened. The primary incentive to learn was, as I believe it should be, the pure joy of it. Because I was raised in this learning environment, I have learned to take initiative and be curious.
Being homeschooling gave me the flexibility to pursue my interest in spirituality. I was three when I first started to meditate, and I was four when I said, “the mind has only one trick it can do: it convinces you that you are not the heart,” a line my mother jotted down. Two years later, I insisted on going on a pilgrimage to the holy mountain Arunachala in South India. My mother and brothers and I stayed in an ashram at the foot of the mountain for three weeks. We would climb the mountain each day and along the path we befriended a stone carver named Krishna, who gave us lessons on carving stone with chisels. The journey to Arunachala taught me to have an inner calm and to remain peaceful and happy regardless of external circumstances. This lesson has stuck with me ever since, and it helped me cope when my father abandoned the family shortly after.
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