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My daily routine

What was my routine on an average day?

If I were to talk about how I faced an exam; I would also have to talk about what my routine on an average day was like and what I do before I take up an exam. My day back when I was at school was something like this. I would be at school from 7:50 am - 1:50 pm after which I would come home and have lunch, immediately after which I’d leave to diksa for remedial thrice a week. I’d have dance classes (thrice a week), so I’d go for those as well and after which I’d have tuition. Tuitions began because my mother felt that she couldn’t handle me or my lessons anymore. So, I started going to tuitions everyday.

The tuition teacher, was a friend of my mother’s. She made me memorize my lessons. But here’s the thing, dyslexics find it extremely hard to memorize. It's practically impossible for them to do so. I’d typically spend around 4 hours at her house every day sometimes even longer. By the time I was done which would be around 10:30 pm, I’d be ready for bed. Some would say that it’s good that I kept myself occupied and was working hard but I barely understood anything that was going on.

In all honesty, it almost felt robotic, the same monotonous routine each day. I still recall my friend calling me a busy bee; I would barely have time to do anything else. Be it meeting or having play dates with my friends or going out with family. But this also meant that I had no time to process anything that I was doing. I was working hard, then again it was futile as I didn’t get a break or think about how else I could go about it.

As a 12-year old who had no idea that she was dyslexic, I just kept going, thinking it was normal. My mother too couldn’t say anything to the tuition teacher because she felt that she was putting in several hours of hard work only to receive complaints from school. She was truy frustrated. My mother brought her for a meeting with Sudha ma’am. Ma’am tried explaining my challenges and struggles with learning. But I doubt my tuition teacher was anywhere near convinced.

I was always put down by teachers for not doing well, constantly judged by most of my peers and even met a few parents who were particular about who their child was friends with. Well obviously I didn't fit that category. My biggest issue was reading and simultaneously comprehending the content I read. A lot of my attention went into my reading so quite often I needed time to think about what I did and why I was doing something. In my head, it was like a constant traffic jam with vehicles honking from every side. It was utter chaos.

How did I face an exam?

If merely getting my results caused me that much anxiety; I’m sure you can imagine how the examinations itself would have made me feel. Initially, upto class 5 exams didn’t mean much. It was boring yes, but I didn’t worry because I knew I’d perform well. But that changed once my difficulties became more prominent. What seemed so normal and routine for one to take up, somehow to me a sense of foreboding loomed. The minute the announcements were made, anxiety and fear skyrocket.

As the revisions would begin, I’d start noticing how much more I had left to study and the tutor would set expectations of my scores. Targets would be daunting. I used to have a habit of putting math to the last minute. As the days got by, and exams started nearing I frequently lost track of time. I'd spend more time at my tutor's house. There have been several days when I've sat down till 10:30 in the night still trying to finish up a chapter. But despite knowing I could not focus anymore, I couldn’t say no to my tutor. I did not realize that I had reached the point of saturation. I was too scared to say anything. At the time I didn't know I was dyslexic nor did I take it easy on myself. So that meant more study hours and lesser breaks than usual. So even if I physically couldn’t, I had to force myself to sit there.

Blank outs during the exam were something I faced quite often. I would look at the question paper but none of the answers would come to me. My hands would get extremely sweaty and my head would start throbbing with pain. The questions would seem so familiar yet I wouldn’t know how to go about doing the paper. So I’d just give up and write as much as I could. There have been times when I’d prep so well but god knew what would happen and I’d forget pretty much everything when I looked at the paper. It got so stressful that I would often fall sick just a few days into my exams. Especially during the December exams. It's the peak for viral diseases, and I'd surely be affected by it.I didn't think the two could be correlated until later. But by the time I was done, I'd be completely exhausted.

I still recall Sudha ma'am telling me often that I never used to smile that much while I was still at school. It didn’t occur to me then. I was scared and fearful for no reason. I didn’t wish to stand out., didn’t want my mother to feel embarrassed, didn’t want my peers to think that I wasn’t capable of anything. To me, scoring good marks was what made your parents proud. But all that hard work was futile. I felt like I was competing at something that I had absolutely no skill at. It wreaked havoc on my self-esteem.

But was it worth pushing myself so hard? Yes and No. Yes because now I know what I'm capable of and also get myself to sit down and finish something I've started. No, Because I don't feel very good about performing in any context and exams do scare me to this day.