When I was younger I always viewed or defined myself as cool or relatable. As I progressed through life, this perspective eventually melted away. It did not help that I would move around a lot throughout my childhood and thus I was the perpetual new kid. On top of that unfortunate title, I was also a little off and I was not sure why. I would not know what I would do or say but just by simply trying to interact with peers I would be met with laughter. Even though many of these elements have been discussed in prior blogs, I will dive into an aspect that I have not fully embraced in past articles, this aspect is perspective. As mentioned earlier, I would think that interacting with others was fine and without a challenge. What I did not know was that the way that I perceived my self and my actions was far different then how my peers viewed me.
I thought that this dilemma would vanish once I got a diagnosis later in life, however I find myself more cautious of my interactions. In most professional settings, I find myself masking even more than when I was a child. For the most part I think that I’m minimizing most strange or unusual social quirks. However, I soon discovered that this was entirely wrong. One day a professional peer came up to me and said, we want you to have some candy since we talk so much crap about you behind your back. I wasn’t hurt I was discouraged. I felt discouraged because this statement, albeit an attempt at a light hearted one, was essentially a statement that told me that event though I work very hard to mask and minimize my quirks, they still come through.
In a similar situation, I was putting on an event, only to be told by another professional peer that what I do comes off a little sloppy. To me, in my head what I feel like I’m doing is perfectly fine, however the perception that others hold does not always match with my perception.
I think this is one of the greatest challenges that some one with NVLD faces, the challenge of perception. I may perceive what I’m doing is perfectly fine or acceptable, it may be very far from the case. This is why I can not drive. I perceive my ability to be perfectly acceptable, however anyone who has ridden with me can tell you that is not the case what so ever. I have wrecked two cars, and terrified numerous passengers. Meanwhile I feel like what I’m doing is perfectly fine, it may be far from it.
A lot of communication break downs come from this perception issue. One individual who had a massive communication break down was Chris Rock and Will Smith. For those of you who do not know, Chris Rock has NVLD. When I saw that interaction with the two of them, I was reminded of so many similar situations. While I wasn’t slapped like Chris as a child, I was bullied mercilessly for saying the wrong thing. Chris was bullied as well growing up. Despite the similarities, there are some key differences between us. One difference is that he feels more free now that he had received his diagnosis, something that I have yet to experience. Although as he continues to talk about it in various interviews, he said that he goes to therapies. Maybe these therapies help him to traverse the difficult social emotional landscape. If so that makes sense because it does feel like this perspective issue is larger than the individual with NVLD.
In closing, just know that if you feel you have a hard time making friends, just keep in mind that while it is difficult, I have discovered that there are those out there who are patient and willing to understand someone who is different. While it may be challenging, different is still wonderful.
I am a social media ambassador who was diagnosed later in life. I am an event promoter, animator, and musician. Essentially jack of all trades and master of none. If I can do anything I want to inspire others who may be a little different to make things and express themselves.