Not too long ago I received a jury summons. In all my years, I’d never been called to serve. I generally find jury duty interesting and recognize it as a civic duty, but the summons came at a rough time and I started thinking about how to get out of it. When I said I started thinking, let me clarify… it only took a split second. All I had to do was get a doctor’s note and I wouldn’t have to go.
As a result of my brain surgery, I have some specific memory problems. My challenges include proper nouns of people and places I met or learned about around five years before my surgery through the present. I also forget complicated information easily if I’m multitasking, and a few other minor, now-known memory issues. So, yes, I could easily make a case to get out of it. I’d just have my doctor write me a note. That was my initial plan.
However, in my recovery, I wasn’t ok with having a bad memory. I may have trouble remembering things due to brain cancer and surgery, but I also know how to teach and learn. And I know that things aren’t always easy. I know that sometimes students require a different approach, and as I became my own teacher, I realized that I did too. So I took charge and experimented with a lot of different methods to improve my memory.
I found what worked and implemented it into my daily life. For example, when something is serious or complicated, I give it my full attention rather than multitasking. I am capable of multitasking with most things, but not with complex issues. I’ve learned a lot about my abilities and where my boundaries are, and how to deal with my memory challenges. It still takes me a longer to remember proper nouns, even when I try really hard, but I get there when I stay dedicated. I have learned a different route to tap into and use my abilities.
So back to my summons. Although I thought about getting out of it immediately, I didn’t act on it right away. The idea of jury duty kept popping into my head in different ways. Should I just do my duty and go? Maybe it will be fun… Then when I thought seriously about just going, it hit me- hard! What if they dismiss me and say I wasn’t good enough? In a court of law, I could be pronounced worthless?!
My insecurities were showing their ugly heads and that thought really pissed me off. As I festered in my anger, it hit me. How can I be mad at these strangers when I was going to do the same thing to myself? They weren’t allowed to say I wasn’t good enough, but I was? Even worse than that, it was a lie! I could be a juror, I just didn’t find the timing convenient and started making excuses!
I’m able to accomplish all the things I used to, but I have to do some things in a different way now. It’s called being difabled or having a difibility. To say I couldn’t serve as a juror due to my memory issues was ME putting MYSELF into a box, into a label, into a place where my efforts and successes became worthless because of an easy lie and a refusal to try. It also occurred to me that there could be other consequences. For example, maybe I wouldn’t be employable. After all, what’s the demand for someone who can’t remember anything?
So I went. I was a bit nervous and second guessed myself here and there, but I went. I sat all morning (not that it matters but that’s when I began writing my “Guilty…” blog) then got called right after lunch. I was juror number 12 and went through the long questioning phase. During all of the juror questioning, voir dire, I answered the questions fully and honestly, and felt in my soul and stated/ confirmed that I was impartial. I’m not going to talk further about the case itself because it’s private and irrelevant, but I did my duty.
So I acted responsibly and used my memory skills to be the competent citizen I am during my jury duty. It made me feel good that I was who I am and didn’t look for an easy-out using my challenges in life against myself.
*This was a very difficult and vulnerable post for me. I’ve been working back and forth between my words and my courage for over two months trying to get everything out. Thank you for your kindness.