I'm Just Built Different

In addition to looking fucking fantastic, this design was created with my fellow neurodivergent athletes in mind. In case you're not familiar with the term "neurodivergent," let's define it! Definition from my.clevelandclinic.org:

The term “neurodivergent” describes people whose brain differences affect how their brain works. That means they have different strengths and challenges from people whose brains don’t have those differences. The possible differences include medical disorders, learning disabilities and other conditions. The possible strengths include better memory, being able to mentally picture three-dimensional (3D) objects easily, the ability to solve complex mathematical calculations in their head, and many more.

At the time I write this, I am suspecting that I am neurodivergent. I have an idea of what the condition(s) may be, but I'm currently on a waitlist for an assessment so I won't disclose what my suspected condition(s) is yet.

If you've read the past The Story Behind The Design blog posts, you would have noticed that I use the term "mask" frequently. For example, in the Reborn post, I described how I felt like I couldn't show my true self while I was in university and how I've learned more about who I really am since graduating. Let's also define the term "masking," in case you're unfamiliar with it. Definition from psychreg.org:

Masking is a term explaining how neurodivergent people feel the need to camouflage in social situations to appear neurotypical. Masking is a form of social survival displayed in different ways depending on the behaviours the individual wants to conceal.

It's basically suppressing parts of your true self and faking parts that the public sees. Masking is super exhausting and feels like you're putting on a performance... except you never got a script. You're just trying to keep up with the actors by copying what they do, say, wear, believe, etc.

Masking negatively affects your mental health because you're literally pretending to be someone else - some version of you that isn't actually real. Masking can come with anxiety (example: "Oh shit, I wasn't supposed to say that, what if people think I'm weird?"). It can come with depression (example: "I don't know who I am anymore, I'm not happy living like this."). It can come with risky behaviors such as substance abuse to cope with the differences you're born with - and sometimes you're not aware that you have these differences.

But my point is, neurodivergence is literally being "built different."

Because of all the masking neurodivergent people do in an effort to appear "normal," or neurotypical, it can make you feel like you're an alien. And that's where this UFO graphic comes in! As you can see, the people in the design are being picked up by a UFO (perhaps from a planet where being neurodivergent is neurotypical? I'll leave the interpretation up to you.) As for the flexing and posing, I just thought it was funny. But it also shows that they lift, just like you and me!

In case you're wondering where this scene is set, it's set in a foggy Canadian forest. Mainly because we're a Canadian company and the fog makes it vibey lol.

Now you know the story behind I'm Just Built Different! Thank you for reading!

- Karen


Bonus: Sketch pre-graphic designer!

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