I was a 6-year-old kid, I remember my classmates one by one. The fact that I have a good memory and the hyperfocus of analyzing the human mind made me remember each one individually, but there is something, much more prevalent that made me remember in the collective, of the seven schools I attended… That something, was the bullying I went through. I can’t pinpoint exactly when it started, from physical and verbal aggression, to emotional violence and constant belittling by classmates, because it was a constant, from the time I was in kindergarten. I remember attending most of the breaks alone, either because they moved away or because I moved away, wanting to avoid public humiliation, or even physical aggression. The fact that I didn’t like sports, had problems with motor coordination, and had different topics of conversation than most of the boys, were the target of these conflicts.
As the years went by, and the situation worsened, I was less and less invited to something, or approached for positive reasons, and more and more were the harassments and teasing, which I followed until I ran away into the house. I even received anonymous phone calls, threatening me with death, and to the point of contemplating suicide, or even revenge before my colleagues. I am, and in some ways always have been, proud to be who I am, that part of who I am, autism. Being different, and assuming myself as I am, I have created many enemies along the way. Where the mentality of young people is often “that kid is weird… hence a target”, and of adults who believe that “boys will be boys, and they’ll get along…”. It makes me think of two things: One, that in 4 million years of development of the human race, we have learned a lot about how to build objects and very little about how to build relationships with others. The other, that bullying is a prevalent reality trivialized for Netflix series, and ignored as a problem to be addressed, and solved. Time passes and the affective memory of the episodes fades, but some things remain. Some distrust of people continues, anxiety about dealing with them, especially getting to know them. Life goes on too, I left school completing high school. I clung to my hyper-focus, now with a better purpose of helping other people, as a holistic therapist. I was privileged to go from “victim”, to “survivor”. But many of us have ended up as victims, of a larger pandemic – that of inequality and stigma, whether for neurodiversity or some other divergence, and some of them, ended up retreating with their lives.
Over time, I gathered my hyper-focus and life experiences, positive and negative, into something bigger. I transformed it into a mission, the mission of bringing awareness to people, of themselves, of others, of the world… My name is Nuno Silva, today I am 25 years old. If I could, I would go to that wounded 15 year old boy… 10 years old… or even 5 years old and remind him, that one day all that would have a meaning, the meaning he wanted to give, and this would turn him into the Man, healer of himself and others, that he is today, still with a splendid life ahead of him. I think he/it, deep down knew this, and I think deep down the bullies knew it too, with just one difference…. I WON, and today I invite anyone who wants to, to win too. Thank you