I was always a bright student, not a good one.
I learned by incorporating new information into the existing web of what I knew, so that once I understood something I was unlikely to forget it again. Hence I was able to mask my undiagnosed ADHD and my complete lack of study skills successfully enough by piecing together the parts of lessons I had been paying attention to, and making educated guesses. I didn’t get brilliant marks, but I didn’t fail either.
I never had any particular strength of will, but I could fake it by putting myself into a situation where it was easier to follow through than to give in. I can also draw on my reserves of stubbornness and bloody-mindedness at a pinch; they can look like willpower and perseverance if you don’t know what’s going on under the surface.
I seem to have missed many of the ‘meta’ lessons which I should have learned at school – I have no strategies for dealing with the frustration of not understanding something, or for persevering when things become difficult and it would be easier to lie down and quit. I never learned to ask for help in a gracious way; by the time I have to admit to myself that I need to lean on someone else, I’m pretty much going to be a prickly and messy ball of nerves.
I would very much like to retrofit a ‘good character’ on to myself.
Clearly my failure to learn these techniques means that I am a bad person. This is continually being driven home to me by the sort of writing exercises which attribute strength of will, determination, perseverance, self control and the like to the hero, whereas the villain, or even worse, the comic relief is vacillating and racked with self-doubt.
So the question remains – how to learn?
Gloria Hanlon 2016 All Rights Reserved
Photo credit Michael Anderson 2013