"I didn't understand the difference between intelligence and knowledge. So I assumed I was an idiot." J.D. Vance ~ Hillbilly Elegy
In some respects I am and always will be a 7B1.
In seventh grade we moved from Shawswick, a country school, to Bedford Junior High. I don't remember being tested, but what I do remember is ending up in the 7B1 class. It didn't take long to realize that 7B1 was the lowest level of the seventh grade class structure. Once that became clear to me I accepted the fact that wasn't as smart as some of the other kids my age, otherwise I would have been put in a higher bracket. It was just a fact of life evidenced by my continual struggle with math and reading.
That classification stuck with me for years. Even when my twin sister and I were accepted at college I figured it was because the school needed the money not because of my dazzling SATs. My family scratched together the additional money we needed to supplement the grants and loans we were awarded along with work study. It was a semester by semester endeavor.
It wasn't until late my Sophomore year in college that a friend majoring in Early Childhood Education suggested I take a skills test. Turns out I'm dyslexic. Not in the totally non-functional way, but in the just enough to flip digits when ciphering math and losing tracking when reading kind of way. Who knew?
So with that little bit of self knowledge I slowly started doing better in my studies.
I majored in Art. I never dreamed of majoring in anything else. Truth is Art and Music saved me, although I never realized it was a special gift. It came so easy I thought everyone could do it. I just thought they put efforts in other more academic things. Of course learning to read music was out of the question.The first time I took Psychology in college I failed. A year later I aced it. I completely made up my final term paper using handmade drawings and diagrams to illustrate my thesis. I had to dig just to come up with a believable bibliography. When I got the paper back it had an A+ on it. The professor requested I see her after class. I bolted. I was afraid my fraud would be discovered. Now I wonder how my life would have changed if I had "fessed up". That was when I realized that I might actually be smarter than I thought.
And yet, it wasn't until after I had graduated from college that I got up the courage to try to read a book all the way through, cover to cover, for the first time. I was 23. I went to the bookstore and picked the thinnest classic I could find . . . The Scarlett Letter. After that I pushed myself to read another, and then another, and then another until I became a consistent reader. Oh sure, I might be slower than most, but now after all these years of reading and continual learning I feel that I truly understand the difference between intelligence and knowledge and the reality of disability vs. potential.
What's really funny is in the end I married into a family of Educators. When I first met my father-in-law he asked me what my career aspirations were. Poor guy never realized I actually made it up on the spot. Turns out what I told him was the exact path my work life took. I've been working in the IT field for nearly 20 years now.
So in the end the 7B1 classification was just a label and not reality. It's my history to be sure, part of who I am and the person I've become. Through persistence and perseverance I have to say I'm feeling pretty confident in my abilities these days and it turns out I'm a pretty smart person after all, if I do say so myself!