Intersection of my Faith, Culture, Ethnicity, Choice, Body and Neurodivergence
Intersection of my Faith, Culture, Ethnicity, Choice, Body and Neurodivergence
“Don’t worry if you’re making waves just by being yourself. The moon does it all the time.”
– Scott Stabile
I have always been fond of the half moon.
In fact I like to tell myself, half moon is my identity.
I still remember back when I was younger – maybe in high school (don’t remember my exact age), I wrote an article about my infatuation with the half moon. To the public I wrote something along these lines, “the more intently I look at the half moon, I notice that it is actually a full moon. We just get blinded by the bright shiny half moon. If we look closely we will see the shaded other half that is only visible when you look for it”.
In retrospect, I feel I related to the half moon personally. Back then, despite being ignorant of my neurodivergence, I knew that people only saw the mask I was wearing and not the shadowed me.
I have also always liked sunflowers.
They always face the sun. Kind of looking for hope – even in the hardest times. Again reminding me of myself.
I am lucky in the sense that growing up I had loving parents who took care of me. My father used to work overseas to support our family. My mom held the fort back at home. We lived in a loving joint family system.
This is where the intersection comes into play.
You see, despite having the privilege that I did, I felt things a little differently. I saw things a little differently. I perceived things a little differently, and I did things a little differently.
I was different. At least that’s how I felt.
No one understood why I got offended by certain things.
And I didn’t understand why people would get angry or offended by what I said or did.
Culture, Body and Neurodivergence
Our culture is rich in its hospitality. It’s colorful. It’s beautiful but it’s not all a bed of roses.
The gossip mill runs on comparisons.
Comparison between me and my peers – (whether siblings, cousins or friends) – never sat well with me.
The hardest part was body shaming under the pretense of “ we care – that’s why”
My mother tried to tell me I am beautiful the way I am – but I didn’t believe that.
How could I when so many people were trying to tell me how I look? I didn’t know of my neurodivergence back then, but not knowing doesn’t make neurodivergence go away. My Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria played a huge role in the intersection of my body and my neurodivergence.
I remember attending a funeral, and someone told another person your daughter resembles Samar – her response was God forbid – she doesn’t.
Don’t get me wrong. I am not seeking any sympathy. I love myself for who I am (now) but back then, it was hard for me to process. It was hard for me to love myself for who I was.
You see, I have always had an emotional relationship with food. I have always had a challenge convincing my brain to do tasks. That doesn’t mean I didn’t do them. I did but with an effort that no one could see and now no one believes.
It always felt like I was pushing myself against a wall – a wall that was pushing back. And I wasn’t stronger than the wall. But how long could I keep going like that?
I gained weight, I did crazy diets, I lost hair, I had major health issues. I knew I was overweight and I knew why and God knows I was trying to lose my weight but people thought I didn’t know and that I wasn’t trying and therefore reminded me quite frequently.
Most of these memories though I feel like only I remember. Because when I recall, they are either not mentioned, the subject is changed or I face counter arguments that somehow gaslight my lived experience to the point where I start questioning myself. If positive gaslighting is a thing – then I have an extra large serving of it everytime I talk about my struggles.
The good part about my self discovery journey though?
I feel authentic. I believe in myself. I trust myself. I validate myself.
Culture, Ethnicity, Choice, Body and Neurodivergence
I am a muslim woman of south asian descent who chose to wear a hijab with her own free will.
No one forced me. No one “oppressed” me. It was my choice.
In fact if anything, most of the people I know were against it.
I am a muslim woman of south asian descent who identified her struggles, made a choice to seek support and made a choice to go on a journey of self discovery.
I am an autistic & adhd muslim woman of south asian descent who made a choice to disclose her neurodivergence after being identified as autistic and adhd by three psychologists.
I knew I would receive invalidation. Maybe some snickers (No, not the chocolate. Though I wish it was because ironically I love the snickers chocolate! )
I knew there will be more positive as well as negative gaslighting than ever.
I knew that culturally and ethnically my choices will create more challenges for me emotionally and mentally.
I didn’t know whether I had the capacity to deal with all of that but I couldn’t live without being my authentic self. So I made a choice.
Hijab was my choice. Pursuing an evaluation was my choice. Disclosing my diagnosis was my choice and now writing openly about my lived experience is my choice.
I don’t want to burn any bridges or hurt any sentiments, but I just want to hear my own voice. Validate my lived experience and respect my intersectional identity.
The king of my intersectional identity, my saving grace, my source of light – My faith. My faith is my passion. Through all my life experiences, my only constant has been Allah (Subhan wa Ta’Allah)
He understood and still understands.
He listened and still listens.
He loved and still loves – unconditionally (I might add)
He was there and is still here!
When everything looked perfect to everyone else, He saw the storm inside of me.
When people body shamed me and I was struggling, He saw ALL of that.
When I made my choices, He was there to witness it. I asked for His guidance in everything and I still do.
I cling to my faith very tightly.
I have made my fair share of mistakes however my faith has been my saving grace.
I know I have a home to come back to – always – and that home is my faith.
Somedays I feel very tired. I feel like my soul has been working tirelessly and I just want to rest.
So I have decided – to give my soul a much needed respite. I will be taking sometime off.
I will be nurturing my faith and will focus on my physical, mental and spiritual healing.
I will take out my undivided time for my only constant, Allah.
I will walk towards Him, I will run towards Him and I will just pour my heart out.
I need that. I NEED my constant.
I have never talked about my faith so openly. Not because I was afraid of the stereotypical assumptions of it – but because my faith is sacred to me. Absolutely sacred.
My faith is who I am.
So, I am making a choice here too.
In the glorified intersection of my faith, culture, ethnicity, body, choice and neurodivergence – I am making a choice. I will unapologetically be my true self.
If you have come this far –
JazakAllah khayr (which means – May Allah swt reward you with goodness)
About the Author
Hi! lam Samar and lam a neurodivergent. Finding out about my neurodivergence through a formal evaluation was life changing for me.
My childhood was inherently spent knowing and believing within my heart that I was different. My diagnosis served as validation for me, I could finally put my guard down. Or could l? I founded Kind Theory to cultivate acceptance, inclusion and celebration of neurodiversity. My hope is to do it globally – but hey! It’s a start.
I have worked in the fields of education, information analysis and operations management. I have a Masters Degree in Business Administration and a certification in Big Data Analytics. I find the human brain extremely fascinating and therefore have a keen interest in learning more about how the psychology of the human brain works.
l started an ALM in Psychology but had to pause due to personal reason.
The woods are lovely, dark and deep. But l have promises to keep. And miles to go before I sleep. And miles to go before l sleep – Robert Frost
My hope and dream is to someday be able to earn a Masters in Psychology and eventually a doctorate. A girl can dream right?