If you know me, learning about my neurodivergence might not be a surprise, or perhaps it might. I really don’t know.
Understanding what people think or feel isn’t exactly my forte, which, I’ve come to find, often goes hand-in-hand with being neurodivergent.
This summer, at 38, I was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).
And I’m still processing it all.
My entire life up to this point has been spent under the impression that I was just a bit weird or sometimes quite a bit weird.
Suddenly, I’ve been given this new perspective that suggests my brain simply works differently, and that’s perfectly fine.
I’ve always felt a step removed from everything, never fully integrated unless I had a clearly defined role to play in the social setting. This has actually made professional environments manageable for me since I’m the go-to problem solver there.
(I realize that this is a mask i wear pretty well, and in the right circumstances, I might even seem like an extrovert)
But social gatherings, parties? That’s where I become the awkward one, hanging back and hoping someone will approach me rather than inserting myself into conversations. After enough unsuccessful attempts, I’ve built up a decent amount of social anxiety. The fear that others might find me annoying looms large, especially since once I start talking about something that fascinates me, stopping can be a real challenge.
This might also explain my affinity for IT. Computers have always been my refuge because they are predictable and non-judgmental. They simply execute commands without taking offense to what you say or how you say it. I’ve dabbled in other areas, like studying sign language, but I always find my way back to computers. They’re where I feel most at ease.
So why am I talking about this now? Next week, I’ll be heading to Microsoft Ignite in Seattle. I’ll be amongst many but without really knowing anyone.
However, I suspect I’m not alone in this. There are likely many other neurodiverse people in IT who’ve had parallel experiences to my own. It made me think that perhaps we could use some sort of symbol.
So, I’ve designed the logo that’s at the top of this blog post.
NeurodiversIT – we’re neurodiverse and in IT.
I’ll have the logo on me, or my laptop. If you see me with it and want to talk, just come talk to me. It’s a conversation starter, especially for anyone who gets the neurodivergent life or just wants to chat. I might even have an extra NeurodiversIT sticker.
I’m thinking, the logo could be a bit more than a cool design, right? It’s like a nod to the kind of unique strengths and ways of seeing the world that folks with neurodiverse minds bring to the table, particularly in tech. You know, we’re the ones who often come at problems from a whole different angle and find those out-of-the-box solutions.
If you’re at Ignite and any of this makes sense to you, look out for the NeurodiversIT logo. It could be our way of saying ‘hello, you’re not alone’. And if you’re not at the event, I hope you get that this is about all of us, everywhere. In tech or any other place, we’re here, doing our thing, and our unique points of view are what make us stand out.
As Ignite gets closer, I’m feeling a bit nervous but mostly excited. I can’t wait to meet people, learn new things, and just be part of it all. And the logo on my laptop or hoodie may be small, but it represents a big idea — an invitation to a community that may not always take the first step to join in.
I’ll see you in Seattle.