Tuesday, 29 July 2014

What Is Difference?

Firstly I want to say a huge thank you for all the views and positive feedback about my last blog it means so much.
My next blog is a mix of personal experiences and things I've seen and found from talking to many people over the years, it's about difference and advice and tips to those out there who may feel "different" to their peers.
In society over the last few years it's seem to be cool or the in thing to be "different" especially in the world of social media and celebrity. A lot of people also see differences whether they be a learning challenge a mental health issue or a medical issue in their favourite celebrity and think "oh I want to be different like them too." For the genuine people who struggle with the emotional effects of a hidden illness or need it can be incredibly frustrating, a lot of people have experienced bullying, abuse and painfully low confidence and low self esteem due to their differences why would someone want to copy those? Another issue I have seen arrising is a lot of assumptions to how someone maybe behaves or is without the full understanding of why they might be doing it or that there might be a genuine reason for difference. I hope by sharing some of my personal stories it will help others who may have been in or may be in now similar situations and help you have the confidence to be proud of your differences. To those maybe who don't struggle with feeling different I hope it opens your eyes to not pass judgement to those who are and be your own kind of difference and not be a sheep and follow the crowd.

Ever since I was a small child difference has always surrounded me I've always been very tall and if you add to that a mix of un-cordination and clumsiness it made me stand out like a sore thumb as a child. I was always the one who was last at sports day, the one who had half her art work down her top rather than on the paper it's self and could literally trip over thin air. It made me feel very self concious and insecure and I used to stoop to hide my tallness, it also made me a victim to bullies, I was always the person nobody wanted on their team.

As I grew older I found my learning style was different to those around me it would take me a lot longer to process information and copy things down and keep up with everyone else. Another thing which made it difficult was that I felt like I was the only person who was different, nobody else seemed to do things the way I did, it made me feel very alone and lonely.
As well as differences with learning I found I had different interests to my peers I loved cheesy pop music whilst they loved RnB. I was going to see s club 7 in concert whilst they were going out and getting hammered and turning into school drunk. (now I do both but that's a different story)

As an adult the differences haven't gone away and it has lead to me facing quite a lot of ignorance and lack of awareness and understanding and consequently a negative effect on  my mental health and self esteem and confidence. A particularly negative experience at university lead me to develop quite severe social anxiety in opening up to others about my difficulties and needs, I became terrified of judgement and wheather people would understand me but at the same time would happily advocate charity work on social media.

For me a changing point was recieving advice from Mollie King from The Saturdays on radio 1 at the time I was terrified and was shaking so much the presenter assumed I was half my age. The advice she has given me has been invaluable and helped me have the confidence to open up and be more proud of my differences and I no longer felt alone it was like this dark cloud had almost shifted.
Another thing which has helped is meeting my amazing boyfriend who i incredibly understanding of my differences and always says there's never a dull moment, I also have great friends.
The last few years have been difficult for me I have experienced extreem ignorance and lack of understanding, for a very long time I lost who Rosie was and became a shadow of my former self I felt like it was a mix of sadness, anxiety and tiredness in a never ending circle and I coped in ways which I was not proud to cope, this was all because of the feelings of being scrutinised for being different. I have since sook professional help and am feeling a lot stronger slowly.
The reasoning for me telling these aspects of my life is that I will from my own personal experiences understand why someone would make up or just want to be different to fit in when there is so much ignorance and lack of understanding of difference in the first place why would you put yourself through that?

I have also found that people in the past have talked down to me because of my difficulties It also made me want to hide my difficulties rather than seek help with them. I didn't want people judging me or assuming I was slow or stupid. I wanted to be talked to as an equal! The most annoying thing about having neurodiverse differences like dyspraxia and dyslexia is that people see the things we struggle with and assume that means we can't do other things either. I would be rich if I knew the amount of times people assumed I wouldn't or couldn't be able to do things. The amount of times people have told me over the years that I'd never be able to learn to drive or that my difficulties were just a spectrum of negativity.

I was reading a blog last night and a point which I found so important was:
"I dream of a day where people research our strengths
and how much we can achieve as opposed to our weaknesses"

I really hope one day this is true and that the positive differences will be understood as much as the the ones people will struggle with. I hope one day to be in a position in a job to be seen just as Rosie and not just someone who may sometimes find things difficult.
Until then I will actively support charities supporting neorodiversity especially dyslexia and dyspraxia and get the positive message out.

A final point, the world would be a very boring place if we were all the same why spend your time pretending to be someone who you aren't embrace your genuine differences and don't be shy or scared, applaud others who have the confidence to do this and understand other people's differences too.

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