A Wapsi girl (or a Wapsi boy, maybe?) faces her demons, instead of pretending that they aren’t there. She confronts both her insecurities and her shortcomings, rather than running from them. Sometimes this means you vanquish the demon, and sometimes, it means learning to live with and accept those demons as part of yourself and part of your life. Sometimes winning the battle simply means refusing to be destroyed by it.
There has been demons of loneliness, insecurity, and fear in my life that I have successfully slain. But there’s another demon that was with me from my birth and will be with me to my grave. Like many members of my mothers family, I was born with two intertwined mental disabilities. Like many in my family, I have both a short-term memory disorder, and what’s called a “sequencing disorder”. That means that while I have no trouble with language, complex abstract concepts, or analysis of ideas, I have to fight to remember my own phone number, my zip code, or any sequential list of instructions. I’m five months from completing my masters degree, and I still cant alphabetize. I never will be able to. That’s just my brain chemistry, and no pill, surgery, or amount of effort on my part will ever change that.
You’d think that a demon that prevents one from doing something so basic as remembering how to get from school to home without at least 200 repetitions would really get in the way of getting where you want in life. But, you’ll notice that I mentioned being 5 months from a MA. I’m a successful graduate student with two solid careers and a full schedule.
For the longest time, tho, my disability did hold me back. When I was young repeating grades was discussed more than once, and I did have to repeat a class or two because I just couldn’t seem to perform up to the standard. It was only when I was finally able to accept my reality that I have these disabilities that I was able to start to really fight them. I tried to fight my demon by ignoring it (didn’t work) and by trying not to have a disability (also didn’t work), but when I decided to own up to my demon and fight it the way it needed to be fought- Bing! Sudden success! For me, this means taking copious notes in multiple formats, keeping my notes near me at all times, refusing to take instructions unless I can write them down, double-checking everything, and sometimes, asking for help. This might all seem easy, but it can be really embarrassing! I have to be resolute enough in my battle to just do what needs to be done.
To me, that’s a Wapsi girl. She doesn’t ignore the demons within, or fight them with sheer stubbornness. She fights them with all her intellectual forces, all her other personal resources, and with the help and affection of those around her.
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