Don’t Give Up


Jimmy Valvado at the 1993 Espy Awards.

Imagine your brain scattered constantly with thoughts that are difficult to understand. Imagine a world where people look at you like you are a sore thumb in their reality when you reveal that you are different.

When I was a child, I was diagnosed with a comprehension and speech disability that made it difficult for me to comprehend anything with words. Sometimes, it felt like the people around me were speaking a foreign language. And speech-it can be very difficult for me to express myself verbally.

When I entered school, I felt that I would never fit in. saw kids who were able to follow directions without asking the teacher to repeat and answer a question without thinking of an answer first. 

I thought I was abnormal for asking teachers to repeat questions until my second year of middle school. I transferred to another school that helped me build my confidence.

However, that confidence decreased when the school stopped caring about the students as much as they used to and started to spoil us.

When I graduated from high school in early 2017, I had this notion that I could do all of my assignments without researching or taking my time. I never asked for help from my teachers even though I did need help. 

It was my pride, I guess. I felt that when someone gave me criticism, my heart shattered into a million pieces. 

I did not have to be organized, not in a binder-sense, but in what I should do first to complete an assignment based on the difficulty and length. Also, I didn’t make a home-made schedule for what I should do next so I could have better pacing.

Yeah, my high school teachers said something about organizing and keeping up with the assignments, but they didn’t teach us step-by-step. Also, they gave us a very biased and positive perspective of college. However, there was not any realistic perspective. 

I mean, I am not blaming them for trying to motivate seventeen and eighteen-year-old black and brown kids to go to college. However, I did become too comfortable (confident) in my old routine:

  1. Wake up
  2. Shower
  3. Get dressed
  4. Eat breakfast
  5. Go to school
  6. Go home
  7. Do homework
  8. Eat dinner
  9. Watch Tv
  10. Go to sleep

My high school is such a good school, especially in their method of teaching, but not in terms of the lifestyle and common sense they taught. They didn’t teach me to prepare and organize my social and academic life correctly.

When I finally went to college, I had this whole idea that I would by-pass every assignment and just do well in class.

Nope, that didn’t happen.

I was being so unrealistic with myself. In fact, I put myself in isolation after morning classes during the first two months of freshman year. I did not want to socialize or go to the caf to eat, so I ate the stuff in my dorm. And my roommate never showed up. It was great.

That’s when homesickness and depression hit. I felt I wasn’t smart enough to continue college. I wasn’t motivated enough to accept my disability as a unique quality of myself while dealing with an aggressive boyfriend and father-issues. There were so many issues that brought down my self-esteem more.

For two weeks, I called my mom every hour of the day to tell her that I wanted to come home. I didn’t tell her that I suffered from depression or that I didn’t see myself continuing school. 

Slowly, I started to realize the reality of being alone, finally being an adult and facing the true identity of who I will eventually become. But I couldn’t grasp it. I was in denial.

I was afraid to push myself because of what I have, but there are so many people who have conquered the world with a disability. For years, I thought it was wrong to be different and abnormal. But here I am, grasping for another chance to prove myself.