I am dyslexic and have ADHD.
All throughout school it's looked at as a bad thing. It's also wildly misunderstood for the most part.
My mind was always somewhere else in class; trying to remember the lines to a movie, tap dancing under my desk, wondering how to both ride my bike and carry my new Discman during the ride without it skipping. All the while, though, was listening to whatever was happening in class. My mind could never stay in one place. The more that I had going on, the calmer I was.
When we had to read anything; I wouldn't. I would be so frustrated after reading the same sentence over and over and over, and having no clue what it was saying, that I would give up and wait for the discussion part of class where I could learn what the reading was actually about. Early on, right around 5th grade, I learned that auditory and visual learning was where I excelled. I knew I could hear something once and retain it. I knew I could see something that was on the board and visualize it when I needed to recall something from it for a test. So... I continued on with writing out movie lines and song lyrics and ideas for stories in class. At least it looked like I was taking notes so I wouldn't get in trouble. And that's how I got through school.
You see, it was always movies for me. It made sense. I could watch something and learn new vocabulary, history, and interpersonal communication. I could see different places, since I had no idea how people visualized anything when reading. I didn't know how much I was learning by something that made sense to me; I only knew that I loved movies.
I wanted to be Julia Roberts. I decided that very early on. I could be on set all the time (I grew up in the 90's where it seemed she was in a new movie every month), have fun, and interview with Joan Rivers on the red carpet. It seemed amazing. I studied every line from every movie. And honestly, about 20 years later, I can still recite almost all her lines from My Best Friend's Wedding, Runaway Bride, and Notting Hill.
But then Mr. Deeds filmed in my hometown at the end of my 8th grade. That's when everything changed. Seeing the crew setup on the first day, talking to Adam Sandler and Peter Gallagher, and seeing what I'd always dreamt of being around - actually happening in front of me, felt like the first time I'd actually opened my eyes. I couldn't take in enough. I knew I loved movies before and that was what I was always going to do with my life, but that Monday morning on Bank Street in New Milford, CT, I fell in love with movies.
Once I got into my senior year in high school and college, there was nothing else I really wanted to do (save for dance). I was filming, editing, writing, directing, producing. I would stay up throughout the night because I was so into it. I was finally in my element. Instead of being the kid asking others what the book was about right before class, I was being asked to help edit or direct. I had found my place. I finally was where my brain could function as it always wanted to; as it has been setup to do. No longer were what others consider a weakness, that. Dyslexia and ADHD were, and are, the biggest strengths I could hope for in this career.
I love that I've seen things differently for my life. I love that my brain cannot stop thinking of ideas. It has only made me a stronger writer, director, and producer.
We all want a place to belong; to feel like we're appreciated for who we are and what we can bring to the table. Filmmaking is that place for me. And it's where my weaknesses are no longer.