“If you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” Albert Einstein
Albert Einstein’s quote has always increased my confidence in times of difficulty because it reminded me of something very simple: everyone is different and everyone is brilliant. Climbing a tree to most people will seem a very simple task to most people but to others it is an impossible task. Just like unlocking my office door.
Despite the professional importance of the job I’m about to undertake I find it practically impossible to sleep the night through the first week of a new job. This internship was not any different. Would I make any major faux pas? Would I be inadequate in this position? This could possibly be linked to the many damaging comments of teachers who simply attributed my learning disabilities to not trying hard enough or not being smart enough. The week before I started my internship I formulated list of my many faults, from struggling to spell and type to walking in to doors (which I do on a regular basis). However, I would not have been able to possibly have predicted the problems I would encounter.
Dyspraxia is branded ‘Clumsy Child’ syndrome for a particular reason, your life is turned in to a farce with its presence ominously looming. After a couple of years of co-existing with the rude, overwhelming Dyspraxia figure you are forced to learn to laugh at yourself and bungling blunders. However being stressed tends to aggravate and reveal the dyspraxic traits, so in the first week of a new job can be filled with embarrassing antics that it takes a number of weeks to recover from. If you told people that you were having problems at work, most would guess it to be with technology or with someone in the office, not a door. At some point in every single person’s life they have spent an incalculable amount of time fighting with a door, key and lock: normally the key and the lock are winning this vicious and frustrating battle. This sums up my relationship with Dyspraxia perfectly, frustrating and demoralizing.
After being given a key I was extremely excited at the prospect of being deemed trustworthy enough to get a key to the office. It turns out; I absolutely loathe the door which greets me every single morning. On my second day of work I arrived first in the office and early, which it turns out is a good thing as it took me ten minutes to win the battle with the door. While fighting with the door numerous different staff members walked by this increasingly discouraged female trying to perform a simple task and as I was desperate to make a good impression I became even more disheartened and desperate not to meet their eye contact ever again. This is not a good start to a working atmosphere as I know from previous experience it has always been the good working relationships which have saved me from disaster previously. I began to lock the door every time I left the room and try and arrive earlier and leave later than everyone else to practise the simple process of locking the door. I set aside an extra ten minutes in the morning just to ensure that no one would see my shameful battle with the door and due to that I can normally open the door in a minute. This may seem ridiculous but this in fact was a very important process for me to go through. If I can handle this process nothing is too hard for me to achieve.
Rhian is a marketing intern with Bats Without Borders, as part of the Disability Equality Internship Programme.