Contributed by Nana Osei
To the young Mr Osei,
This is you from the future… hello! I’ll try and keep this simple for you. If there is any advice I would give to you is that it’s okay to be a little different. You are not obliged to follow what other people do.
I can imagine now you rocking the small afro, married with the odd colourful clothing, and you know what? It’s good to experiment around your age. We all go through a phase where we’re trying to own our style. Mum always said: “experiment is the best teacher”, so sometimes it’s good to be a little different.
I also know you’re trying to find your identity in the vacuum of school life. You don’t always have to follow the trendy type. I know a lot of guys and girls at your age are experimenting with different substances. I also know it’s what most kids do now, but if you don’t like smoking you don’t have to smoke. If you don’t do like drugs then don’t do drugs. You are your own man, and no one can speak or control you. You shouldn’t allow anyone to judge you for excluding yourself from these activities, and if they think you’re weird then to hell with them.
I have a friend that once told me, “being different from others is a great thing. It means you’ll always stand out from everyone else”. I wasn’t privileged enough to hear those words when I was young, so I’m telling you now.
Being yourself is the fuel needed to power your vessel of creativity. I know you can paint, so don’t be too shy and introverted with your creations. Shroud yourself with pride and show your skills to everyone chale! Privilege the world by letting people know who YOU are, and what you are about.
I know this is something you are dealing with (and I still am now), but you need to stop always putting people ahead of you. Don’t always feel like you have to be the hero that saves every damsel, nor the fireman that puts out other people’s fires. You’re a good kid but sometimes you can be way too nice in a world that likes to beat the good out of people like us. Don’t change who you are, but my advice to you is to be wary of the negative people (so-called friends and crushes) that will take your kindness for weakness, using it for their own selfish reasons.
There are going to be some people who you consider as your friends who will do this to you, and cast you to the side after. This is the time you should be around positive people.
Finally, this is the big one. The big elephant in the room that I know you don’t want to talk about. By now you are very insecure with people portraying your dyslexia as a disability. Look, being dyslexic does not mean you are lesser than anyone else. I’m telling you this now, I know you’ve always had difficulty catching up with people, whether it’s reading books or working on your exams. Just because you take your time DOES NOT make you slow. Where you lack in other subjects your creative mind makes up for it in other places. With this, you will grow up admiring great people that you had no idea were dyslexic just like you, such as Leonardo da Vinci, Sir Richard Branson, Mohammad Ali, Steven Spielberg, Steve Jobs, heck even Albert Einstein. All great men, suffer from dyslexia, yet have accomplished great things in life, so why not you?
Being dyslexic you will always go face to face, toe to toe with your adversities, though it will not bring you down, but fuel you to push your abilities forward.
I hope these words have been helpful and will bring you comfort. Before I go, I’d like to leave you with this with a quote:
“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
Love from your older self