I have struggled with a learning disability and slow processing speed since elementary school. Slow processing speed is exactly what it sounds like — the brain takes in and responds to stimuli and other information much slower than “normal.” I vividly remember always taking longer than everyone else to do basic things like complete a short worksheet, do my part of an in-class group work assignment, and take a test. Although I may work at a “slower” pace than my peers, the pace I work at allows me to access my work and complete it to the best of my ability.
Unfortunately, not everyone sees it that way. The education system tends to view someone who is “slow” as a burden and an “inconvenience” to the class. This view has been strictly enforced throughout my educational career, mainly by my peers and teachers constantly telling me to hurry up or something to make me feel guilty and apologize for being slow. I used to apologize over a million times a day for it, but not anymore. I’m done apologizing for the “inconvenience” of slow processing and I’m not sorry.
To my teachers, I’m not sorry for trying my best to learn just like my peers. I’m not sorry for “slowing down” and “holding back” the class. I’m not sorry for “taking too long” to give you an answer. I’m not sorry that you can’t be patient with bright, capable students like me.
To my peers, I’m not sorry for “not being good or fast enough.” I’m not sorry for taking a class that “isn’t for people like me.” I’m not sorry for refusing to conform to your outrageous mold that I clearly don’t fit into nor want to. I’m also not sorry for “ruining your grade.”
To my workplace, I’m not sorry for my “inability” to do “simple math.” I’m not sorry that I’m not answering your question right away. I’m not sorry for attending a college that I’m “clearly not capable of attending.” Yes, I’m also not sorry for not caring one bit. I am who I am and I refuse to apologize for being me and for a condition I have no control over.
My advice to anyone who is struggling with the pressure and expectation of apologizing for slow processing speed is to embrace the strengths it gives you as well as the difference it makes. For me, slow processing speed gives me the ability to savor a moment, make rich connections to ideas and have a solidified understanding of the theories of the world. Slow processing has also given me confidence as a learner since it constantly keeps me within the learning style that works for me.
There is also a major difference in my overall performance when my processing speed is accommodated versus when I’m under the timer. The difference is whether I succeed or fail, and I choose to succeed just like everyone else. I also learned that the haters will eventually slow down and understand, even if they seem reluctant.
I’m #NotSorry for the “inconvenience,” and you will never change my mind.