Month: October 2022

Our Differences Are Our Greatest Treasure

By Yamila García

I know that at this time many people in the school feel that something is wrong with them. As I walk around campus, I always think about how many people are wondering why they have to be so different and can’t just fit in like everyone else. They would try to “camouflage,” learn to be like everyone, and hide every particularity that makes them rare or unacceptable to society. I know it because I lived many years of my life this way. Blaming myself for being different, and thinking that something was wrong with me. Although I learned to value these differences, I also learned with whom and when to share them, just to be able to fit in. 

In all these years that I spent not knowing the reason for my differences, I also lost the opportunity to work on them to enhance them. I feel that the passage of time and the struggle to fit in, made me lose some of these characteristics. Some were positive changes, but others were a great loss. I remember having a great ability to play with numbers and symbols in my head. I remembered very long series, and I made long equations without writing them, just drawing them in my mind. I was able to see connections in many more things than now and I could hyperfocus deeper and for much longer than now. I think I just thought that those things that I was obsessed with, kept me from having a normal social life. Perhaps I got a little angry and saw them as an obstacle. The truth is that I didn’t have the tools to see the potential in my differences and I regret that.

When I officially found out I was neurodivergent, I took a breath, forgave myself, and apologized too. I felt sorry for having blamed myself and for having thought at some point that my differences were problems instead of opportunities. From that moment on, everything made sense and things only got better. I have been trying to recover what I lost along the way trying to camouflage myself and I celebrate my differences. Knowing who you are is the best starting point and allows you to work from your own reality, enhance your strengths and understand your difficulties from a more tolerant perspective with yourself. I wish that all those who have ever felt like me, can have a prompt diagnosis and begin to celebrate their differences because they are our greatest treasure.

One card at a time

By Yamila García

When you are attentive, everything around you can teach you something. I was sitting next to a friend at an event when I saw her take a stack of cards that had been printed with the wrong date. She took a pen and started correcting them one by one. The stack of cards was so big that I thought she would just correct a few for the event attendees. I began to think how nervous it would make me to have to correct them all in the time that the event lasted. Also, I remembered the many times when my pile of pending tasks is large, and I drown in thoughts of fear of not being able to complete them. Then, I spend hours worrying, instead of trying. I watched as she kept correcting cards slowly and carefully, and I thought that she would never be able to correct all of them in such a short time. But she kept going slowly and steadily. I greatly admired her perseverance, and her ability not to get caught up in a hurry. I thought about whether she was aiming to finish them all or if she just kept on consistently without even thinking about having to finish them. How wonderful it would be to be able to have that perseverance and that calm when facing my tasks!

Time passed, and before the event was even over, she had finished correcting all of them. When I saw her from the beginning with that giant stack of cards, I didn’t think she would make it at such a slow pace. However, with her patience and tenacity, she did. She not only did that, but she also inspired me! I went home with great motivation to try to replicate what I had learned from her. I imagined myself sitting in front of my computer, starting with a small task, as if it were a card that I was going to correct, then another task, and thus completing my stack of cards without even noticing it. In order for you to understand how important what I witnessed was to me, you would need to know what the process of completing the same task would be like for me. First, I would choke thinking about the number of cards, then I would probably think about the time I would have, I would divide the number of cards by the time available to know how much I would be able to spend fixing each card, and then finally I would take some time to doubt which would be the best way to do the task, or which would be the best pen to use. Meanwhile, my anxiety would increase more and more, and I would start correcting the cards at an exaggeratedly fast pace. I would feel overwhelmed. I would stop, and I would continue to doubt whether or not I would be able to complete the task… I think at this point you get what I’m trying to say. So, even if we don’t complete the stack of cards, it’s better to have completed some instead of none. Same for homework, chores, work, and everything we have to face in life. Let’s keep moving, slowly but steadily, let’s just sit down and do it, and then let’s see how far we get. Thank you dear friend for this teaching.

Neurodiversity in Media – “My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic”

By Evelyn Allen

A large portion of how we think tends to sprout from what content we consume as children, and so having positive messages in shows aimed at younger audiences is important for us to learn our morals and how we should treat others. One show that I grew up with was the cartoon “My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic,” which was just like any other children’s cartoon with bright colors, cute characters, as well as every episode ending with a lesson about friendship that the main character learned through interactions with her friends. This show was a huge part of my childhood and taught me what I know about selflessness, diversity, and acceptance of other’s faults.

While it seems a little childish to be looking at a kid’s show for this topic of neurodiversity which is ever so real and impacts people of all ages, what this show does differently is integrate the message not just that friendship is magic, as the title suggests, but also that friendship and teamwork is composed of more than just one type of person. In fact, many of the problems that the characters run into is being so polar opposite in ways of thinking and being, and in the end this conflict is resolved–not by changing one’s ways to be more like the other, but by coming to a mutual understanding of how their differences complement each other and how they can pick up where the other leaves off.

The show is about a pony named Twilight Sparkle, who is an intelligent but reclusive individual who puts no import in making friends. Her journey involves meeting and befriending all different types of ponies that she has a serious conflicting personality with and coming to terms with that. The first pony she meets is Pinkie Pie, a loud and boisterous character who makes it her duty to know everyone in town and be best friends with them. She is very much her polar opposite. Next she meets Applejack, a farm pony who is hardworking and outgoing, taking in others as family, which is foreign to Twilight, as she grew up in the city rather than the country. After that there’s Fluttershy, a shy character who is just afraid to even speak. There are more characters, that seem to highlight Twilight’s faults.

I phrase it this way because each character seems to have something that our main character does not. Throughout the show, as they become closer friends, Twilight learns how to be a better friend, but never has to be someone she isn’t. She doesn’t have to pretend to be like her friends because where she falls off in some areas, her friends pick up. Therefore there isn’t a total reliance on one’s self, but on the closeness of others. There are clear differences between all of the characters, but these differences are not seen as an obstacle, but a strength, and even are necessary to function.

There is one episode in particular that really focuses on this idea, which is also one of my favorite episodes. Twilight and her friends are called to a village in the middle of nowhere, where everyone lives peacefully... except it’s almost eerie how similar they are. Each pony is exactly the same, with the same haircut, same defining mark that would normally highlight one’s strength, same faded colors. The leader of this colony believes that in sameness, there is no conflict, and no struggle. However to the outsiders, who know how their differences make them stronger, this is a strange idea. While there is no conflict, there is also no room to improve or innovate or make connections, and with no sadness comes no happiness. While in the village, the main characters have an argument, but quickly resolve it because in conflict, there comes a solution and an understanding.

These messages just from this episode are so important to recognize. Just because people are all forced to be the same, so that no one feels jealous of anyone else, or if we level the playing field by quelling achievement, that doesn’t create progress or solutions. It only holds us back. Struggle is what molds us. Individuality is what brings us together. And when you look at the world around you, there are so many different people with so many different ways of thinking and being and yet they are still there around you and you can reach out to them and coexist and they are still making it in the world, no matter how success is measured.

I chose this show because it really is one of my favorites, but it also has taught me so much about how my differences don’t make me a bad person, they don’t make me a failure in the system around me, they are just the parts of me that will interact with others and in turn will make us both better people. I like to think of it as gears in a watch, or a big Rube Goldberg machine, where we will
progress, but we have to play off of our differences and work together to do so.