I stared at the white wall in front of me, my blood boiling and my brows knit in anger. I felt tears of frustration pricking my eyes. I heard the loud chatter of the office behind me. Of all the voices, there was one that especially made my skin crawl: the principal’s.
Last Friday during my school’s sermon, I sat next to my best friend. We sat with our backs against the wall, our knees pulled up, our arms crossed and our heads ducked under, so nobody could see our faces as we whispered and giggled.
“What are you two doing?” A voice bellowed above us.
I look up to see the principal standing before me, her face twisted in admonishment. She scolded us and told us to sit in the straight rows with everyone else, and that was that. Or so I thought.
During first period the following Monday, I talk and laugh with my friends as I do any morning before class. However, the principal storms into our classroom. Everyone goes silent.
“Ariana, you will be coming to my office for a month,” she announces harshly. She turns to my homeroom teacher. “During Jumu’ah, doing this,” she folds her arms out in front of her and lays her head on them, turning her head from side to side in a mocking manner, “talking and laughing … this is not appropriate behavior.”
My mouth hangs open in a mix of shock and embarrassment. The next few sentences she says are a blur, and then she leaves as quickly as she entered. I scan the class in self-consciousness, praying no one will make eye contact with me. The chatter in the classroom starts up again slowly, and my homeroom teacher doesn’t mention what happened.
I was utterly confused and hurt. I didn’t think I did anything wrong. Nevertheless, I did what she asked; I went to her office every day instead of going to recess during the first exciting month of snow. I was in fourth grade.
The next year, my mother, who was is a doctor, jokingly said I had ADHD. I didn’t think much of it then; in fact, it was something I’d go around telling all my friends: “Hey, guess what? I have ADHD.” Years have gone by and, though I’m still undiagnosed, it’s now evident to me the reason I couldn’t sit still during that one sermon, which led to me wasting away a month of my life in my principal’s office, was because I have ADHD.
This self-realization was a breaking point in my life. It emotionally damaged me to know all the hurtful words my loved ones said to me about how I’m talkative, impulsive, forgetful and distracted were about behaviors that are not my fault. But it was also a step forward to learning and loving myself. I’m understanding that I was different from the people around me, and as a result, I’m resorting to other methods to reach the same goals as them.
For example, when I’m listening to repetitive lectures my mind starts to wander, so I turn to note-taking to help me stay engaged. I contain my excessive energy by taking extra educational classes to keep me occupied, and use makeup and art as a creative outlet. I also get excessively irritable when trying to figure out a difficult problem on my own, so I look to more knowledgeable people for help.
Now that I know this about myself, I intend on using this former shortcoming to fulfill my ambitions. While behavioral issues have been the principle struggle of my entire life, they have also sparked interest in me to major in psychology because I personally relate to people who struggle with disorders.
The more I learned how to channel my flaws into beneficial abilities, the more I was able to turn my weakest link into my strongest power.