I set a piece of empty white paper down on the cheerful Formica tabletop. I look at its bland expression challenging me to do it. I’ve seen not only grownups but also my older brother do it so I’m sure I can too. I tune out the noise around me and settle in to the singular focus of a 4 year old, pushing an escaped piece of blonde behind my ear.
Reaching for a sky blue crayon that matches my eyes, I grasp it with determination to write my name for the first time. My hand begins to slowly navigate the treacherous curves on an M. Luckily there are two I’s with their straightforward lines an dots between the M and challenging angles of a K. It’s painstaking work, teaching myself to write and seems to take forever to complete my four letter name on the page. I look at it and suddenly a sense of excited accomplishment bubbles up inside and spreads across my face – I did it!!!
I proudly clutch it in my little hand as I look for my mother. After dealing with my 3 boisterous brothers and a couple of barking dogs, she finally turns to give me her attention. With a smile as big as the golden gate, I hand her my life-changing work. She looks at it smiling, with only a brief cloud passing over her pride. She takes me up to her bedroom mirror and holds up my writing. “Look!” she says. “It’s mirror writing. When you hold it up to the mirror it looks like the way we write!”
My name in the middle of a sea of white paper was perfectly and completely flopped over, as if you were reading it from the backside of the paper. Now others may have take this as not doing it right and honestly I believe that my mother was a bit worried. However, I let her excitement infuse my enthusiasm and I knew it made me special – it was my own superpower. Others couldn’t even read it this way and I could read AND write it! I could read the normal way also so obviously this was a special secret superpower of mine.
I’ve used this ability to see backwards, forwards and upside down for good and not evil in this life. It has given me the confidence to know that understanding people and the world differently is a gift. It gave me the permission to embrace who I am, what is different about me, and not be ashamed of it. Dyslexia is my superpower and opened my life to enjoying the expansive beauty of the diversity of unique gifts we all have and the courage to share mine. Instead of carrying dyslexia as a burden, struggling with feeling stupid and wrong, I embraced its benefits and excelled.
I admit that I don’t get calls from mayors or chiefs of police to use my superpower to save the city from villains. However I’ve saved myself and helped others discover how to save themselves from the villainous beliefs that different is bad. What’s different about us can actually become our superpower.
What’s your superpower that you’ve hidden away? I invite you to bring it out in the light to the inevitability of wings, soaring as you share it with the world. And maybe someday we can all get cool outfits to wear too.