How Katie Overcomes Her Learning Disorder To Graduate Near The Top of Her Class

Editor’s Note: Before joining Pocketbook, I worked in various digital marketing capacities and often consult with clients. I would inevitably talk about “hustling” but what I almost always get in reply is, “Can’t you just give me a step-by-step instruction?”

Hustling is not a set of instructions. That would be too easy. Hustling is a mindset, and Katie’s story here shows just that.

You do whatever it takes to get to where you want to be.

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Like many other learning disabilities, I was not made aware of mine till much later in life. As a child I believed that there were smart kids who did well in school, and there were kids that well… weren’t so smart.

I just thought that’s the way it was. I also thought that I fell into the latter category. School made me feel frustrated, and also a bit worthless. It had nothing to do with the learning as such. Learning fascinated me, I used to ask my parents a million questions about how things worked until they were absolutely fed up with me wanting to know everything.

I just didn’t grasp things like reading and writing as quickly as other kids did. What was supposed to be second nature, just wasn’t.

Fortunately for me, in between the chaos of my final years of High school, my mum was desperate to find a solution. Following a series of phone calls, appointments and examinations, I was diagnosed with dyslexia at the age of 17. I had no idea what the term meant, but I remember feeling ashamed, and then relieved that there was an answer to all of this. I was right, school was not for me because they were evolved around a standardised teaching method aimed at the ‘typical individual’.

Now don’t worry, this isn’t some ‘sad story’ about how I was diagnosed with dyslexia and quietly accept that learning was not for me. Oh no, quite the opposite. This is the story of how I hustled to get what I wanted.

More than anything, I wanted to go to University and learn. I knew that my grades were not on par with the ‘smart kids’ and that I may not even get in. The idea of failure – not getting in – scared me to death. But I knew I had to do it. I applied to 3 different nearby universities and chose 2 different courses from each that I was intrigued by. To my absolute astonishment, I was accepted into my first choice – a bachelor of Business. Hustle one, check!

The first lecture I went to,  I found that the note taking was really hard to adjust to. I was interested in what the lecturer was saying, but couldn’t fathom how I could write down what felt like 1000wpm and listen to everything he was saying. It turned into a jumbled mess, and I left feeling as confused as ever.

Everything seemingly went in one ear and out the other. I wasn’t about to give up though. No excuses. I found opportunities to enhance my learning like videos and online quizzes, I stayed back every single lecture and discussed everything with my lecturer who didn’t seem to mind my company (I don’t think) and I asked every single question I could think of when tutorials rolled around. I was that kid in your class that most people would roll their eyes at and say ‘Oh look, her hand is up again. Know-it-all’, and sigh.

You know what though? I didn’t care.

It helped me and that was an important lesson for me to learn. Don’t hold yourself back just to fit in with others, how else are you meant to shine? Hustle number two, check!

As a result of my perseverance, I started scoring higher than anyone in my class. I had never been so proud of myself. I always knew my parents were proud of me, but that day that I came home to announce I scored 90% on my first exam paper. They were absolutely astonished to say the least. Was this the same girl who was diagnosed with a learning disorder only a few months ago? Hustle three, check!

My next obstacle was to find ways that I would find learning easy instead of burning out by reading page upon page (which I did, but I really struggled). I searched the internet for stories and mimicked learning techniques. Some methods were more obvious than others such as, audiobooks allowing me to read aloud while I was listening to the audio tape. The most valuable thing I learnt was to value my weaknesses and acknowledge them. In turn, I found my true strengths. Towards the end of the degree, I still wanted more. I finished with a 6.2GPA, which was more than enough momentum to convince me that I could survive law school.

At the start of last year, I applied to study law. I was accepted and finished my final year of business. Now I am in second year law. It has pushed me to my limits. My books are thicker and more technical than ever, making it impractical to listen to audio and forcing me to refine my reading methods.

Although it is the most challenging thing I have ever done, it is definitely also the most rewarding. I am so proud of how far i’ve come and if you told the kid in high school who was struggling to even keep up with her classmates that she would be studying her second degree (law) and near the top of her class. Well, I wouldn’t have believed you.

It’s happened though, and every obstacle, every late night and every difficulty has been worth it because, guess what? I’m a hustler, and I got exactly what I wanted.

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