This week, we're thrilled to continue our Community Stories series, showcasing the narratives of individuals within our community who generously share their life experiences as neurodivergent individuals. In this edition, Alisha has graciously opened up about her journey, inviting readers to delve into the full narrative below:

I've always felt like I didn't fit in, not only due to my skin colour (I am Asian) but also because of being neurodivergent. Growing up in an area with limited racial diversity resulted in enduring bullying throughout my education (secondary school and college). I faced bullying related to my skin colour, height, and gender identity. In addition to verbal bullying, racial microaggressions were a recurring issue during my first year of college. Despite advice to "ignore it and not take it to heart," as a neurodivergent person, deeply affected by emotions, it impacted my mental health significantly. While others may have seen me as overly sensitive, I've always been someone who feels emotions profoundly.

Despite facing years of bullying, these experiences compelled me to adopt a facade, pretending that everything was fine. I learned to mask, especially at college and work, fearing a repetition of the bullying I experienced before. I was perceived as the "odd" individual, always considered the quiet girl who diligently completed assigned tasks during my full-time education. I recall vividly being praised at parent-teacher conferences for being "a pleasure to teach" but advised to participate more in class. Little did they know about my fear of criticism, the dread of not doing things perfectly, and the anxiety about not being good enough, all of which paralysed me. The mask presented to teachers concealed my sense of fun and humour. Beneath that exterior was a girl striving not to disappoint her teachers or family, possessing a wonderful sense of fun, compassion, and kindness. Despite not enjoying social events and finding them overwhelming and sensory nightmares, an invitation would have made me feel acknowledged.

However, as my resilience grows and self-acceptance deepens, I dream of a future marked by global acceptance. A world where neurodivergent people aren't subjected to bullying and ridicule. A world where everyone feels at ease embracing their true selves.

Keep up with Alisha here on Instagram.

Would you like to contribute to our Community Stories? Share your story by sending an email to info@rarebirds.com and become a cherished part of our community narrative.

January 31, 2024 — Christabel Asante