Difficult Dyslexia Earnest Entrepreneur
A learning disability, called Dyslexia, was the main reason why I was bullied, made fun of and ridiculed as a child growing up and attending public schools.
Please allow me to introduce myself; my name is Linsey Daman, Director, Cultural Arts Center of St. Louis, LLC. I am admittedly dyslexic with a long lineage of dyslexia on my fathers side and even a slight possibility of it on my mothers side. My mother had hoped that maybe it had skipped a generation but unfortunately it hadnt.
Learning even my native tongue, English, was a difficult challenge when I was young. Several teachers thought I would never truly comprehend the language or always suffer with spelling and grammar mistakes. Other teachers forced me to seek additional help with reading and see a language specialist after school hours. They were concerned if this language learning problem wasnt addressed early on that I might not be able to fully advance mentally and therefore threatened to keep me back a year in school. Scared with all the threats, I eagerly signed up for a reading specialist to assist me with these challenges. I remember very clearly that I couldnt read with ease and stuttered on every word. The other children in my class always teased and picked on me horribly due to these mumbled speech errors.
I still dont enjoy reading out loud to this day due to the sheer fear and panic these grade school teachers had instilled in me. The school even had me attending special reading classes separate from the normal class, which made me feel awkward and the odd one out when I was separated from everyone for reading time. I didnt feel as bad about the after school hours with the reading specialist because it was done in a private lesson format. Hence, no one other than the teacher, my mother and the school district knew about these sessions. Therefore, I felt like I could hide my disability a little bit more than being publicly separated from the other kids in the 4th grade. After what I felt were endless sessions, I finally was able to stop the special tutoring after school program. I moved onto the 5th grade and took things slowly, but in stride. I was picked on quite a bit in the younger grades, which didnt help my already deflated ego due to my inability to read without falling all over my words. Math however was probably the worst childhood difficulty that I faced over all.
I specifically remember a time when a teacher had out a very complex puzzle in the back of a room and I was sitting in front of it with a headache. What was challenging to me was a cake-walk for the majority of the students in the class. I couldnt concentrate well and all of the colors ran together. All of the other girls were putting pieces into this extremely large, brightly colored puzzle and I felt like I was the only one who couldnt see the edges of the shapes correctly. I remember the reds and the greens ran together and all of the colors were in a complete blur. Now as an adult, I look at this incident and consider it to be sensory overload because there were too many bright colors clashing, sharp edges and loud background noise to concentrate. A migraine formed due to the stress, loud noise and girls teasing me over this puzzle.
How do you make sense of something you dont understand yourself? I was too embarrassed to ask for help so I attempted to take a piece and put it in the puzzle. Of course, it didnt fit and I remember trying to make it fit but it wouldnt work. I attempted to force or push the puzzle piece into a place that simply wasnt going to allow it and therefore it bent the nimble edges resulting in ruining the puzzle pieces integrity. I also remember being even more embarrassed for trying because I thought everyone noticed and would think of me as a failure. I began to cry over this event, but did not go into full tears; just a little wetness around the corner of my eyes and that was that. Luckily no one noticed these tears, as far as I was aware.
As I mentioned earlier, grade school was a real challenge for me but obviously I was able to overcome these obstacles. A few years after college, Ive published a book called Bridging St. Louis which describes my difficult childhood due to bullying, teasing and the ever-present dyslexia and how I was able to overall these challenges and eventually succeed in school and the workplace.
The original inspiration for the book came from within me. For many years, being a published author was not just a goal but an aspiration of mine and finally one day I decided to sit down and make it happen. The subject matter of business, using my company as an example, was quite simple and therefore lead to an easy formulation of the composing process. Since each one of the examples mentioned in the book were truly cases, real encounters and honest statements they naturally came one after another, because I had already lived each of those experiences. One could potentially say it is an auto-biography as well as a business book and I can honestly see how both sides could be easily argued. But at the same time it was written with the intention of business in mind.
Nevertheless, its my professional and personal mission is to help others overcome and work with their own learning disabilities. It takes determination to be an entrepreneur; it takes stronger determination, more ambition, profound courage and mental will-power to be a dyslexic entrepreneur. So began my journey, so began my life, and so began my Cultural Arts Center. - Linsey A. Daman