Skip to content

When you choose to publish with PLOS, your research makes an impact. Make your work accessible to all, without restrictions, and accelerate scientific discovery with options like preprints and published peer review that make your work more Open.

PLOS BLOGS Speaking of Medicine and Health

Journeys in Mental Health

In this second installment of the ‘Journeys in Mental Health’ blog series in which mental health experiences are shared anonymously, PLOS Mental Health hears about our contributor’s experience growing up being neurodivergent and how their mental health changed with time as they rejected stigma and began to celebrate their authentic self.

Embracing Uniqueness: My Journey of Standing Out

Growing up, I often found myself standing out in a crowd, marching to the beat of my own drum while others danced to a different tune. As a child in school, I quickly realized that my hobbies and interests didn’t always align with those of the other girls around me. While they chattered excitedly about dolls and fashion trends, I found myself drawn to the captivating conversations of older children, intrigued by their perspectives on life and the world around us.  I seemed to have more in common with them.

One area where I particularly struggled to fit in was during sing-alongs to popular songs. While my peers effortlessly belted out the lyrics to chart-topping hits, I struggled to identify who was even singing them and to know any of the words. It seemed like everyone else had a natural knack for doing this, while I found myself unable to even know who it was. At times, these experiences left me feeling like an outsider. It was a journey of self-discovery and acceptance, learning to embrace my uniqueness rather than trying to conform to societal norms.

As I grew older, I began to realise that my differences were not weaknesses to be ashamed of but strengths to be celebrated. My eclectic interests and perspectives allowed me to see the world through a different lens, offering fresh insights and innovative ideas that set me apart from the crowd and especially in the field of science. However for many years I was seen as an outlier. Rather than striving to fit in, I learned to stand tall in my individuality, embracing the qualities that made me who I am and the belief in the things I thought were important.

Today, at my age and stage of life I can celebrate my differences and oddities, recognising that they are an integral part of who I am. However, as a teenager, I became increasingly anxious to conform and achieve success in the eyes of others. This pressure to perform to the highest level and be successful also led to struggles with bulimia in my late teens, as I sought validation and approval from those around me. It took me a long time to realise that true happiness comes from within, and that standing out is not only okay but something to be proud of. Learning what works for me, such as where and when I work best, has made a real difference to my productivity and well-being. My differences are my strengths, and I’ve come to understand that I just needed to be in the right place to fully accept this truth. 

Today, I embrace my quirks and idiosyncrasies, knowing that they make me uniquely me.

Yellow flower among pink flowers
Image by Plamen Vlaev from Pixabay

*The contents of this blog reflect only the personal experience and opinion of the author. This does not represent any kind of professional advice or the opinions of PLOS or PLOS Mental Health

Related Posts
Back to top