Imagine the three worst parts of your personality that you want to fix right now.
First of all, I put off what I have to do, don’t keep appointments, and get extremely nervous in front of people. In fact, I can say way more than three things…
If, like me, three things easily come to mind in 10 seconds, keep reading this article till the end.
There are some things that seem so easy for others to do, but are incredibly hard for me. It’s like there's some problem that causes self-loathing to repeat itself over and over again. It makes you constantly doubt your success. It can make it hard for me to get along with others. If you experience something similar, then invest just 3 minutes here now. I'll tell you the secret of a world that all Roomie’s should know.
A Whole New World Called Neurodiversity
There’s more prejudice around mental disorders than physical disabilities. Binary standards such as normal or abnormal are also harsh. So a diagnosis itself is often scary. However, some symptoms of disorders such as ADHD, autism, and anxiety disorders, can be a factor in the personalities that most people commonly have.
So what is it… Are you saying we all have mental disorders? You might ask. Yes, that's right. We all have mental disorders. To a certain extent.
Modern neurologists believe that "normal brains" don't really exist. Because everyone's brains work in different ways. To explain this concept, they introduced the term 'Neurodiversity'. Autism spectrum disorders like Asperger’s, ADHD, dyslexia, bipolar disorder, anxiety disorders, and obsessive compulsive disorders are all included under this concept. People with neurodiversity may be medically diagnosed, but they also may not. There are many cases where daily life is possible without any form of treatment.
Is it easier to think of it as feet, rather than brains? Let’s take flat feet as an example. A foot without arch curves on the soles is called a flat foot, and it is a common physical condition that is said to effect up to 87% of all Asians. Some require treatment such as support braces or surgery, but most don't have any inconvenience walking just by using insoles. There are even many athletes who have flat feet.
If I have flat feet, I can just wear different shoes to people who don't have flat feet. Not everyone has to wear the same type of shoes. If I have a neurodiversity, I can create an environment that suits me. If you erase the words disabled and abled, normal and abnormal, everything becomes simpler. The key is to understand the specificity of my feet and my brain and to pursue comfort to my standards.
Why Women are Diagnosed Late
Women often find out very late that they have ADHD or autism. Especially the smarter they are.
Let me introduce the story of Jenara Nerenberg. After graduating from UC Berkeley and Harvard, she worked as an Asia correspondent for CNN and built a successful career as a journalist. She states that while she has lived a life that may seem perfect in the standards of our world, she herself has felt confused and failed over and over again. Things that were easy for others to do; laundry, grocery shopping and making friends, felt so hard for her and her self-esteem was collapsing. She went to a doctor, but was told she was just a little more sensitive than others, and should try to take it easy.
It was not the hospital that saved her, but meeting with other women similar to her. While interviewing successful women, she felt that there were other, similar stories behind their amazing lives that no one could guess just by looking at them. Finally, after a long investigation, she accurately diagnosed her problems and found peace of mind. Jenara Nerenberg has autism and ADHD.
What's surprising is that Jenara Nerenberg’s case is not particularly unique. Even in the U.S., where mental health awareness is reasonably high, women often receive a diagnosis very late. For autism, men's diagnosis rate is three to six times higher than that of women. The average age of women diagnosed with ADHD is late 30s to early 40s, but the most common age for men is 7 years. Only recently, studies have emerged to show how women’s neurodiversity have been "hidden" so far.
Experts say that it is difficult to detect women's autism and ADHD because the disorders appear in different ways than men. A key issue is that the diagnostic tools and methods are geared toward male standards. In men, hyperactivity, social maladjustment, etc. surface in childhood, but in women, the symptoms are more easily internalized. Socialization begins from an early age, and they make constant efforts to control their behavior and seem like others. These behaviors are known as 'masking'. It's like wearing a mask and trying to pretend to be okay in order to fit into society.
Most of the women Jenara met were masters at "pretending to be okay." But they weren’t really okay. They always felt emotionally nervous and suffered from depression and anxiety, blaming themselves for all the problems. Although they were successful socially, they couldn't take care of themselves because all their energy was concentrated on that success. Maybe they had the potential to achieve even greater things, but could only go so far because of these social masks they wear.
How to Succeed without ‘Acting Normal’
Essentially, neurodiversity can be a blessing, not a curse. There are many amazing, successful women we all know who are neurodiverse.
- Success : Has an illustrious career as an actress, received excellent grades at Oxford and Brown Universities, and is a human rights activist.
- Neurodiversity : diagnosed with ADHD in childhood and to this day takes medication.
- Success : Having become famous as Rachel in the soup opera Friends, she is one of the highest paid actors in Hollywood. She’s also known as a film director and businesswoman.
- Neurodiversity : diagnosed with dyslexia at the age of 20 and began receiving treatment.
- Success : A singer-songwriter who became a superstar as soon as she debuted at 17. In 2020, she swept up 4 Grammys and became an icon of the times.
- Neurodiversity : Experiences physical ticks due to Tourette’s syndrome, but doesn’t hide this. She receives constant support.
- Success : First woman to win a Nobel Prize. She's the only person to win both the physics and chemistry awards.
- Neurodiversity : Based on the surviving records experts believe that she was on the autism spectrum.
Besides these, neurodiversity is commonly seen in so-called geniuses such as Einstein, Bill Gates, Elon Musk, Andy Warhol, Tim Burton and Charles Darwin. Scientists speculate that the reason why less social and mentally unstable genes survive and are passed on is because 'extraordinary talent' is hidden within them.
We’re not saying that everyone with neurodiversity can be a genius or should be. However, you have to know that you can do better than anyone else if you don't have to try so hard to adapt to society. If you focus on areas where you can affirm yourself and do well instead of focusing on what you lack, you can achieve greater success.
Imagine Marie Curie trying to act like an 'ordinary and exemplary girl'. Wouldn't it have been that much harder to study for the Nobel Prize?
We have to make a choice. We can exhaust ourselves living our lives trying to be normal, or we can put down that effort and get help, we can immerse ourselves in exploring our extraordinary talents.