Although this series is about how to deal with being different, each contributor has one thing in common with the others: she’s an amazing writer. This Thanksgiving, I’m giving thanks for the amazing readers who entered the Panache sports tank giveaway, and I know you will, too. (Edit: I’ve just been given permission to share Sibley’s blog with you. If, like me, her post leaves you wanting more, then you must check out Radical Neurodivergence Speaking.)
So, tips for standing out and dealing with it? I am made of those: I am a Hapa woman who grew up in a very not-diverse part of town, I am neurodivergent (noticibly so), and I’m one of those people who has an I AM HERE beacon on my forehead. Always have been.
There are two ways to attempt to deal with what happens when you’re noticibly different in more ways than one: you can try to become anonymous (horrendously unsuccessful for me) or you can run with it. The second worked. I did gymnastics and dance so that being different was ok . . . it’s GOOD if a dancer or a gymnast has a bit of unusual that makes people look, even if that same unusual gets her called all sorts of terrible names at school. I began public speaking about my disability and fearlessly confronting crowds of people who had the same ideas about when bullying is ‘ok’ and ‘understandable’. Not everyone can do the “unflinching relentless telling people that what they do to punish people for being different is not ok” thing, but it was empowering for me. If my light was going to shine anyway, may as well use it for good, right?
And I found ways to make every day just a bit easier. If you’re weird and try to blend in, everyone is like “oh look at that weirdo”. If you’re weird and wear a dragon on your ear and bright colored shirts that say Unstoppable Force on the front and Immoveable Object on the back (to pick an example totally at random from my drawer), then people assume that ‘weird’ is confident. And the dragon or the elf ears or what have you allow me to put myself in a headspace of “I am the protagonist in a high fantasy novel”. That sounds weird, but it takes up a lot less mental energy than “whyyyyyy do I not understand that person it must be my problem”, a thing that neurodivergent girls are raised to believe is true. A bit of every day whimsy helps me cope *and* makes people assume that I’m infinitely more awesome than I actually am.
Urban fantasy and dance: it really works for me.