I was a little bit of a stereotypical girl growing up. One of what I know now to be my “special interests” due to my autism was the entertainment industry. I grew up with classics like Calamity Jane, Chicago, Magnificant 7, Guns of Navarone as well as amazing singers of my knowledge Karen Carpenter, Neil Diamond and Frank Sinatra (as well as my favorite Singers of my childhood) which included Steps, Boyzone, Backstreet Boys, Blue, B*Witched and many more. I didn’t want to join the entertainment industry of the money… I just loved to dance, act and sing. The problem is, this is a very neurotypical dream for a very undiagnosed neuro-diverse person.
I did what every person interested in the entertainment industry did. I took dance classes. I was in the school choir and church choir. I even tried out for full-time theatre school and went to weekend theatre school as well. Unfortunately, with all my passion I had one thing turned against me.
I will say it again. I was trying to achieve a neurotypical dream with no knowledge of how neuro-diverse I was or how to attain my dreams in a way that would suit me. As the years went on I was knocked right down.
In dance – I was hit by a pizza delivery bike when I was in secondary school and had ongoing problems with my knees and ankles. This made people tell me, forget about dancing… your career will never happen so give up… This is something I had devoted even my education to as I wanted to take GCSE Dance. Further blows happened when I had to move school during my GCSE years and the new school I went to did not even offer it as a course. So begrudgingly I gave up that dream. Now the only time people see me dance is when I am drunk. Sometimes I still dance to music in the corner of my bedroom with the curtains closed and the door shut but it is a far cry from where I was (making up dance routines in my living room to music.)
In Acting – A massive problem I had was auditions. If I had the chance to take my time and learn lines I would be fantastic (my opinion obviously) but in auditions, you don’t have time to prepare. This was at a time when I did not know I was dyslexic. Side note- when I was diagnosed I was told I had the reading age of a 5-year-old. That was at the age of 16. Now imagine that in an audition not only trying to act but remember what you were supposed to be saying. So once again I was told, give it up… I have no hope and by that stage, I had lost so much confidence that I stopped going to auditions and shied away from even considering GCSE drama. I believed what I was told…
Singing – Well I fell in love with caffeine and that obviously affected my abilities but because of the other things and scary music teacher I lost confidence in me. I never let anyone hear me sing now. If they do it because the music on my speaker is low enough to hear.
Now at 32 I still love acting, singing and dancing but it is a blessing and a curse. Had I known about my autism and dyslexia – or as others say it Neurodiversity back when I was trying my absolute hardest to get into the industry then maybe, just maybe I would not sit here with aching for something that I always loved in my heart.
Maybe I would not have lost confidence in myself. Maybe I would have got picked for things that I auditioned for. Maybe I would be on Strictly Come Dancing as a celeb partner, but I will never know.
So to all people out there who struggle, who may think that they are neurodiverse in one way, shape or form, find out and learn how to cope with it and push yourself. Because, if you are unable to push yourself to be the person you want to be then you will always be the person that is expected of you. That is no life… I know, I made that mistake years ago and regretted it ever since.