By Liz Spremulli-Gray, 2010 CIP Berkshire Alumni
People become students at CIP to improve themselves. But often, new students come in thinking they don’t need help in certain areas that their parents and peers know they do, or that they are above such a program. They can be too prideful, and without accepting advice or help, their success in the program may be limited.
In the PBS adaptation of Andrea Levy’s novel Small Island, I was struck by a particular line spoken by the narrator, “Sometimes, to make a dream come true, you must swallow your pride.” The truth contained within that sentence is undeniable.
To be a successful student at CIP, you have to want to change. You must accept the help and advice of the staff, even if you don’t think you need it. Often, we are blind to our own weaknesses, and must rely on others to point them out for us. I would like to thank my parents for their support in giving me the chance to use this program to become a better individual. Thank you so much. I don’t know what I would be doing today, had we not spent five hours in back-to-back interviews that day in August four years ago. I would also like to thank the staff. I’m not going to name them individually but they know who they are because I visit them the most.
I have another point to make. Everyone at CIP has a diagnosis of some sort, whether it be ADD, ADHD, Asperger’s Syndrome, High-functioning Autism, or whatever. But you must remember that you are more than your diagnosis. Humans like to affix everything with labels and categories, and put them into boxes so they can quickly make decisions based on said labels without getting to know the person better. But not everyone fits in a box. In fact, no one fits perfectly into their prescribed boxes. To show you what I mean, allow me to break down a few of these boxes for you.
I have Asperger’s syndrome. Most people scoff or gawk in disbelief when I tell them, providing they know what it is, of course. I am also gay. I bet a lot of you sitting before me made an unconscious assumption that the feminine woman speaking before you right now is heterosexual. I’m not. I don’t fit the stereotype do I?
As you explore the world, and grow as people, I implore you: don’t let people decide who you are based on the color of your skin, your age, your gender, your clinical diagnoses, your sexual orientation, your income level, your political affiliation. When you get to know people, the label disappears. So get out there, and show the world that you are more than a category, a label, a box. Because I guarantee you, you’re going to learn a lot. Thank you.