"I have felt different all my life". - Nikki

Hey! I'm Nikki (@oh .so.neurodivergent). I am 34 years old and I live in Roosendaal, with my husband and two cats. I am studying to become a social worker (Social Work, mental health work). On June 22, 2021 (one month before this photosession) I got diagnosed with autism, after a search of more than two years.

I have felt different all my life. I would rarely feel a real connection with others, partly because I pretended to be different than who I actually was. Masking was there from an early age and it happened almost without me realizing it. But my peers would always notice it. They thought I was weird, and they thought it was strange that I had to call in sick from school so often. In retrospect, this was due to psychosomatic complaints which I developed because I was chronically stressed. School was chaos: a lot of stimuli, a lot of information and socially I couldn't keep up. You end up in a vicious circle.

Fortunately, I have managed to hold my own. During my further education I got to know myself better, and learned how to communicate. That is the advantage of getting an education in the social field. I also learned there that I have a lot of perseverance, that I am resilient and that I have a unique view on things. Now that I'm over 30, I have less and less need to conform to society. I'm fine the way I am. I'm proud of that.

Now that I have received the confirmation from my diagnosis as to why I always felt so different, I can let go of the past. I will go in the future with full courage.
My tip for others is that if you feel you might be autistic, you should definitely search for information. Get to know other autistics, for example on Instagram. Or go to a peer meeting. See if it is possible to start a diagnosis trajectory. Embrace yourself and be gentle. You have so much to offer yourself and your loved ones as well!

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