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  • Writer's picturenidhi

14 Rub the T

Updated: May 19

This post is probably one of the most important I will ever write, and it is aimed more specifically at my neurodivergent readers. Recently, I was invited to attend an autism support group for young girls, as a special guest. As I received my diagnosis recently, I have not had the chance to speak to many other autistic individuals, so listening to them was a thoroughly enjoyable and enlightening experience. However, one thing that stuck me was a comment from a particular young girl, “I want to be an actor, but I know I will never make it because I am autistic.” I have found myself revisiting this and reflecting on her words for the last few months repeatedly, so I decided to take to my computer and write.

Yes, I am comfortable with my diagnosis and being autistic, and like I have said previously I see it as my superpower. However, it is undeniable that being neurodivergent comes with its challenges. Whether it be: practical tasks which pose to be more difficult or the constant battle of comprehending your own emotions, trying express yourself or fighting against stigma and the way others perceive you. Whatever your dilemma, it can be tough. For any neurodivergent individual currently reading, your struggles are valid. But every time you feel like you can’t keep going on or the loneliness sets in, just know there is an entire community rooting for you.

I want to stress that you can do anything. Every time someone tells you ‘You can’t’, prove them wrong. As my brother says, rub the T! Show them you can. Show yourself you can. Defy the odds and stand up for yourself. Who says you can’t be an actor? Who says you can’t do what you want because you are autistic? Every obstacle you come across, it just makes you stronger, better and more resilient. With every challenge comes a new lesson to be learned.

I was born prematurely and from a young age had difficulties with poor muscle tone, hand-eye coordination and balance. My parents were told I would never be a ‘sporty kid’. In Year 2, aged only 7, I went to occupational therapy classes to learn how to hold a pen and spent hours practising and building strength in my hands to prevent cramps. But I didn’t let it stop me. At the same age, I joined the school netball team, and I loved it. I knew I wasn’t the best, but I didn’t care what people said. I became super passionate about the sport and dedicated my time to improving. There were multiple occasions where my coaches told me I wasn’t good enough. I was told I needed to try harder, that I needed to prove myself and that I was letting the team down. Of course, there were times when I believed what people said and I thought I should give up. But I didn’t, and look at me now. I have played international netball. In my first year at university, I made the first team and won ‘Sports Fresher of the Year’!

Alongside my lack of coordination, I was a particularly clumsy child. Even to this day, I am constantly covered in bruises from knocking into corners of tables or sides of doors. At the age of 3, I was enrolled in ballet lessons, in the hope to develop these skills, and I pursued dance until I was 14 years old. To be completely honest, I found it incredibly challenging and at times completely demoralising. I could almost guarantee in lessons, I would be picked on for being the frumpiest, most awkward ballerina (if you can even call me that). However, I managed to stick with it and gradually scraped my way to passing Grade 6! Although I would never call myself a dancer, of any form, achieving this reminds me of my determination and how, regardless of what others think, you really can accomplish anything you set your mind to. In the interest of full disclosure, I should also mention that I attended a gymnastics class but after a couple of years I decided to walk away. It was just too hard to constantly hear the coach tell me that I wasn’t as able as the other girls. Afterall, I was only 8 years old. On reflection it was a little harsh I think of the coach. Suffice to say, that sometimes it’s about self-preservation as much as it is about determination.

When applying to study Medicine at university, I decided to declare my ASD. Whilst I wanted to stay true to myself, it was undeniably something that caused a small amount of apprehension. I was actively aware of the stigma associated with autism and the common suggestion of autistic individuals lacking empathy, a quality which is crucial in the medical field. Nevertheless, I hold firm the belief that I should not hide who I am, in fear of being judged on the basis of a stereotype. And I was fortunate enough to receive a place to study Medicine from all my chosen universities, after rigorous testing and interviews. I am currently in my second year at UCL, and my academic journey thus far has been no easy feat. There have been days I have wanted to give up, and many when I have felt completely out of my depth. But, in these situations I remind myself of how far I have come. In all these instances, I rubbed the T. Reflecting on everything I have achieved I am super proud of myself; I didn’t let all those negative individuals bring me down.

And I am proud of you too. Whether it be just waking up every morning or making your bed to doing something gravity-defying. I am proud of you. Whether you are neurodivergent or neurotypical, we all face our own struggles and battle our own internal demons. But keep going, keep growing and keep rubbing the T.

Thanks for reading,

Nidhi :)



Cover Image: 060 /365 Dream Big, Tom Piggott, Dribble

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