As ever, when my clumsiness got embarrassing, I was trying to smooth things over with a joke. I’d joined a kickboxing club with my friend Jade and, while I matched Jade’s progress on strength and technique, my uselessness with rights/lefts and remembering pad-work sequences had become a running joke in our sessions. As adults, we tend to dodge challenging situations and potential embarrassments with all the skill and verve of a matador, so it had been a long time since my physical awkwardness had been so unflatteringly spotlit. After a particularly haphazard delivery of jabs, crosses, hooks and kicks, I joked, “If I were a junior, would you be speaking to my parents about my coordination?” And there the joke ended. My instructor nodded, perfectly seriously. “Without question.”
The word “dyspraxia” was a relatively new one to me, lingering in my ears after a friend’s diagnosis, even though I’d laughed off his suggestions that I should “perhaps read up on it too, babe”. But when I scrolled through the list of symptoms on the Dyspraxia UK website that evening, after googling “clumsy” and “coordination problems”, I started to cry. So many things – seemingly unrelated failings, sensitivities, neuroses, which have shaped my life – suddenly made sense. They were now “symptoms”, not just me being shit at stuff, or highly strung, or overly sensitive.