Wallflower, by Lisa

By June 12, 2023 July 5th, 2023 NVLD Bloggers

Just the other day, I was talking with my sister about my NVLD and how she made socializing much easier for me growing up, and how I leaned on her a bit. She was quite surprised to hear this as I started to explain more.

My sister and I aren’t far apart in age – just a bit over a year. My sister is neurotypical and was born with the gift of the gab and enjoyed being the center of attention. On the other hand, I found social situations exhausting and preferred to sit back and fade into the background but contribute only minimal comic relief. We shared most of the same friends in our neighborhood; there were 6 of us girls in total. This arrangement worked out great. I could enjoy myself with everyone without having to carry the load of entertainment/conversation.  I only briefly experienced pings of social anxiety when my sister was running late or stepping away and oh how my heart would race if she was gone from the group too long. As I got older, into High School, we to a great degree went our separate ways… she was into sports and grades and, I found my artsy flock. I was silly solo and quiet too but I carried anxiety I didn’t understand and shame about it for some reason.  I only knew I did not feel it when my sister was in the crew. Over time, I learned about extroverts and introverts and that it was normal for me to enjoy being alone and normal for my sister to enjoy basking in the social spot light. But this did not explain that secret shame I felt and how more and more that feeling that I did not belong even with my own friends never faded. What was wrong with me? Why was it so stressful to think about making plans with my good friends? I was lucky and had a few friends that took the driver seat. But this social anxiety part of me, really confused me. I was assertive, bossy and creative but not when it came to relationships and spending time with people. I misunderstood so many interactions and that only deterred me more.

I did my best, I journaled and tried new things on the fly and dating was a car wreck most of the time but I did have a few great relationships. It wasn’t until I was approaching 50 that I got the answers I so needed that helped explain my social struggles and many challenges I continue to experience. It was after a neuropsychological exam that I heard the term Nonverbal Learning Disability and what a gift this was. It wasn’t the diagnosis actually, but what I learned about it on social media that had me jumping in for joy! So many aha moments and the understanding that my brain is simply different and there’s many like me. And all those continued challenges are what they are because of my different brain and not because of flaws.

I am excited about learning more about my NVLD and spreading awareness about it and hope others find these answers much sooner in life. 🙂


Lisa is a Project Social Ambassador and blogger for The NVLD Project. 

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