Words by Francesca Stocker, Disability Representative for The Dickson Poon School of Law.
I am writing this as one of the new Student Diversity Representatives, and as a way to introduce myself to the Law School. My name is Francesca and I am a final year LLB student. I have auditory dyslexia and dyspraxia, which affects my ability to learn, process information and my hearing. This is just one of the many types of disability that people can face, ranging in impact on a person’s normal day to day activity and general life. Disability can affect people in a variety of ways depending on the individual, and sometimes it might not be obvious that someone has a disability.
Here in the Law School, it is important that everyone, whatever their situation or story, feels welcome and able to enjoy their time and thrive at King’s. A key part of this, I believe, is to have confidence and self-belief in yourself. This can be easier said than done. So I thought it might be a good idea to offer some of my own personal advice.
- For every negative, find three positives
It’s easy to get caught up in a cycle of negativity, pinpointing everything that is wrong with you and the world around you. Force yourself to think of some positives, to counteract belittling thoughts that can drag down your confidence. Searching for some positives can change your attitude, which in turn can change your behaviour. Now of course not everything can be diluted down into three perfect positives, but this trick might help with your own self-value and belief in yourself.
- Don’t limit yourself
When the environment around you doesn’t seem to want to include or accommodate you, it seems like the only option is to change yourself. Sometimes we might find that they have to lower their expectations of what they deserve or are capable of. Or pretend that we are coping just as fine as everyone around us seems to be. By doing this, we are limiting our true value as individuals and ignoring our talents and achievements. Law School can be challenging and competitive, but you have to at least give it a go and not leave out of fear that it will be hard, or people will be better. Yes, there will often be people who are better at one small thing than you, but that’s the case for everyone. So instead, why not compete against yourself to be achieve the best you can without confining yourself to less.
- Find a support network
Our self-worth can increase when surrounded by supportive and encouraging people. Whether it is family, friends, friends who are practically family, or a partner, it is key to have people who believe in you in your life, to have a mutual reassurance for when things might get difficult or too much. I thought I’d use this opportunity to highlight some contacts within King’s and the Law School, who you can reach out for further support if needed:
- Diversity & Inclusion at King’s: https://www.kcl.ac.uk/hr/diversity/D&I%20for%20Students/Our-services-and-activities-.aspx
- Disability Advice Service: https://www.kcl.ac.uk/campuslife/services/disability/index.aspx
- King’s Wellbeing: https://www.kcl.ac.uk/campuslife/services/health-new/Wellbeing/Kings-Wellbeing.aspx
- Law School Contacts: https://www.kcl.ac.uk/law/diversity/disabled-students.aspx