Who am I? 

Who am I? What is my purpose? What am I good at? Where do I belong?

These are questions everyone asks themselves at some point during their lives. Sometimes, the answers may change as we grow older and wiser.

However, none of those were the questions Little Jennifer was trying to figure out while sitting in history class as her classmates looked on expectantly.

“Why are you so quiet?”

My typical answer usually included a nervous giggle paired with a shrug and a simple response of “I don’t know. I just am.” This was usually met with disappointment as if the asker had been expecting an in-depth revelation of past trauma that would explain why I wasn’t like everyone else.

How could I answer what I didn’t understand? How could I explain that what seemed so odd to everyone else was what came natural to me? That it was a defense mechanism used to function in a society not designed for me.

My lack of an answer made it all too easy for others to insert answers of their own. “Jennifer is just shy. Jennifer is too nice. Jennifer is a suck up. Jennifer is controlling. Jennifer is just stuck up. Jennifer is a goody-two-shoes. Jennifer doesn’t care. Jennifer is boring. Jennifer is lazy. Jennifer is awkward. Jennifer is a nobody.”

All of this left me asking, “Why am I not like them? Why don’t I fit anywhere? Why am I not good enough?”

I tried so hard to fit in, play the part, act “normal”, and be the person everyone expected me to be. At the end of the day, it simply left me exhausted and empty. It was as if everyday I was an actress, wearing a mask to fit the part everyone else wanted me to play.

I know I would have hit a burnout far sooner if it weren’t for my special interests. I discovered the world of reading, photography, writing, and art. I could talk endlessly about Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings. This gave me an “in” to a community that also found interest in these same topics. I met people I never would have had a chance to meet or get close to otherwise.

As these friends grew into adulthood, they moved on from these special interests and became more occupied with relationships, family, and jobs. I started to become that Little Jennifer again. Feeling alone. A child stuck in an adult body and not knowing how to navigate adult society.

“Jennifer is always late. Jennifer is too awkward to deal with customers. Jennifer is under qualified. Jennifer is slow. Jennifer is unorganized. Jennifer is a good worker but not exceptional. Jennifer is a bad friend.”

I was once again left asking, “Why am I not like them? Why am I not good enough for this job? Why am I always left behind and forgotten?”

These last few years have been an incredible journey of self-discovery. I’ve navigated illness, loss, rejection, failure, success, growth, healing, and so much more that I have made the decision to share with everyone. I’ve been incredibly touched by others who were brave enough to put their story out into the world and hope that maybe someone out there will also find encouragement or inspiration from mine.

“Life of a Neurodivergent” will be an on-going blog series where I talk about my dyslexia, anxiety, Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD), my journey of seeking a diagnosis of possible autism, resources, and every day life.

Have a specific topic you’d like me to talk about first? Feel free to suggest it in the comments!

What exactly is neurodiversity? Learn more about it here: https://learningenglishwithoxford.com/2020/11/20/understanding-neurodiversity-neurodivergence/

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  1. Everything is very open with a really clear description of the challenges. It was definitely informative. Your site is very helpful. Many thanks for sharing!