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Taking A Moment: Reflecting on why I am starting Take A Mo and this section

TW: The following article contains references to ableism, transphobia, self-harm, and suicide. The paragraphs containing this information are marked with **

The Take A Mo logo. A light lavender square background with rounded edges. A black outline depicting a sun, hills, and the bottom of a tree in dark gray is set behind a green outline of a bench.

Welcome to the Take A Mo writing section, the space where I hope to summarise, publicise, and amplify perspectives, news, books, and experiences around work and life-work balance. Whilst it may mainly focus on neurodiversity and gender diversity, I aim to also include pieces around other aspects of work such as sleep cycles, 4-day work weeks, remote working, unionisation, and sustainability. This is not an exhaustive list as new ideas for making work a better place for everyone are rapidly emerging!


Currently, Take A Mo comprises of a single individual: Phoebe (that's me, writing this blog). I've been working for two years as an AI programmer (of games), before which I did my Masters in Engineering and my PhD in social learning of esports games. It's a whirlwind of experiences that have given me an array of fun soft and hard skills that I try to use most days. It's not immediately obvious what the connection between all these experiences include. For me, it's been about building the capacity and capability to support people. Especially people with backgrounds and from communities that have often been excluded (either explicitly or implicitly) from work, something we all need to do to survive these days.


Why Take A Mo?


It's important (at least to me) to share why this is something I am passionate about and want to do. I could just summarise that it feels like a core value of mine to help everyone feel included and able to be their best selves. Which is true and something I think, maybe naively, we all share at our core. But I have spent the entirety of my adult life, if not the majority of my life, ignoring my core values.


** I am neurodivergent (both by diagnosis and self-actualisation) as well as transgender, both of which I only discovered and embraced in my adult life recently. In order to survive in a world that perceives neurodiversity and transness as negative (i.e. an ableist and transphobic society respectively), children who are neurodiverse and trans learn to mask their needs in order to be safe. This can happen for so long that it becomes unconscious. You internalise that unacceptable needs (e.g. needing to stim during stressful times, wanting to wear clothes of another gender) should be ignored and acceptable needs (i.e. neurotypical and cisgender ones) can be met in acceptable ways.


** These needs don't disappear. If you're hungry, you can't stop being hungry by ignoring it. If you're lonely, you can't stop being lonely by ignoring it. Even if you can't recognise what your need is, it is still there and it fights back. Your brain and your body fights back. For me, my entire adult life has been on anti-depressants and in therapy because I was severely depressed. I had constant bouts of self-harming and suicidal ideation and thoughts. I had tried multiple anti-depressants and forms of therapy, with very little improvements being made. Not only that, I had so internalised this idea of my needs not being valid and needing to be ignored, that I never noticed what they were or what my body was responding to until I realised I may be neurodivergent at 24 and transgender at 28.


** Whilst my realisations of being neurodivergent and trans have been truly liberating, there is still the uncomfortable fact that our (modern western) society still doesn't quite understand or recognise (if not vilifies) the needs of disabled and gender diverse people. Fortunately in my personal life, I am surrounded by a support network that not only recognises the needs of and difficulties faced by people like me, but actively advocates and supports them. However, it's difficult to ignore that the places I (and other people who are neurodiverse and gender diverse who I have spoken with) have worked at are more aligned with more problematic understandings of neurodiverse and gender diverse people. As such, I have heard a lot of stories about employers and colleagues making work life uncomfortable (often due to a lack of knowledge, rather than malice) for these groups. This is a blind spot in our society that I feel needs to be addressed and I hope to help shine a light on.


Overall, I am setting up this company and doing this work for two reasons: to reclaim and act upon my core values, and as a means of survival. The way society expects everyone to work is based upon myths of productivity and creativity crafted during the industrial revolution that is outdated and exclusionary to many groups of people. As society has evolved, as the kinds of labour has changed, and our understanding of ourselves and our communities have developed, we've still stuck to these old expectations of how, when, where, and why work should be done. Whilst it is important to ask why we've stuck to these ideas (which may be something I delve into in a future blog), I think I want this company, my work, this blog, and my future outputs to ask the following question: how could it be better?


What next?

For me, I still have a lot to do for Take A Mo. In terms of what you will be able to see, the main thing will be this blog. As I am doing research (both for this company and for another project), I want to summarise and disseminate what I've done, found, and taken away from things I've read, watched, or participated in. I am also keen to have conversations with experts and people with lived experiences which I will either upload as some sort of podcast (another to add to the sea of podcasts) or summarise in posts here as interview excerpts.


Whilst I can't promise anything more immediate or exciting, please do subscribe to this blog if you'd like to hear when these go online! Alternatively, you can follow me on LinkedIn or Instagram, where I will post whenever I upload a new blog (as well as other random musings that may come up).


Thank you very much for reading! Take care of yourself and look after those around you.


Phoebe

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