Making friend with yourself

Know thyself.

It took me many, many years to know myself.I am 53, and I have just begun to know myself.

Until I became a mother raising a child at age 27 everything I experienced was evaluated based on how I felt, whether it felt good for me, whether it was right for me.

When my first son was born, I assumed that because he was my son, he could do anything I could do.But I learned that he was a totally different sort of person.I made many mistake in raising him because I of this assumption.

With my second son, I still didn’t know that my child would be different from me.But by this time, we were family of 4, him, his older brother, his father, his paternal grandmother and me.He had stable home, and he did not have to put up with my emotional ups and downs as directly as his older brother did.I begun to know that environment makes big difference in a person’s life.

When my third son was 9, opportunity came to me to see life in the different light.My third son was diagnosed as dyslexic, learning disability that affects 1 in 10 child.A dyslexic person has difficulty varying in degree in read written language symbols.Through him, I learned that it is actually easier for a person who has difficulty fitting in to seek and pursue what they are good at.Unless they do that, it is just too hard to deal with burden of being treated as being different than other kids.

At this moment, my sons are aged 25, 18 and 15.I do my best to help them discover their natural talents that they enjoy using, and steer them towards pursuing the path to expand their talents.  After raising my children, I can say for certain, I learned about myself because of them.

It took a lot of living to understanding.Maslow’s hierarchy of self actualization, Vygotsky’s socio-cultural theories are totally applicable to me.

Through all these, I have gained an insight recently:people who are viewed as “problematic”, “strange”, “difficult”, “not normal” are gifted in some ways.Their gifts will likely flourish regardless of how they may be treated.But when their parents, teachers, doctors tries to “correct” or “fix” them, the life of those being treated, their parents and teachers become miserable.If they are able to be the way they are and accepted, they feel good and positive about their lives and about other people in general.

As my journey brought me to the place I am now, finally I accept that I was one of those fortunate child who was gifted and found a way to use it to make a living off of it.Obvious one is my simultaneous interpreting ability.Despite my challenging childhood of unstable family life, frequent moving around, and family who did not recognize the value of buying high quality education, with wealth of supportive people, I am earning a living and paying for my two younger sons’ eduction and my own educating as well.

I sometimes read on Internet about how some parents claim that their child is “gifted” when they are not.Generally in the U.S. and Japan, we are taught to be humble and not be conceited.I dislike pompous people.But it is sad that in Japan, most of these “gifted” children are treated as problematic, and most of the time if the family is wealthy, they are treated at psychologists’ and given drugs rather than spending money to use and expand their gifts or talents.I sorely felt this when I heard my dyslexic son’s very talented, accomplished musician friend say, “I don’t understand why he is with us.He is so well adjusted, he could get along at normal places.”

At that time, I wanted him to change his view, and instantly learn to see life in joyful way.I wished that I could have said something to change his mind.But then I realized, that it took many, many years to begin to know myself, make friends with myself. It’s the journey that counts. Because it took me this many years, I am content with making friends with myself.

Let’s not deny “gifted” children and their family their journey. Say what is on your mind, but don’t expect instant change. That is okay.

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