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Is Passion-Driven Autonomy also your PDA style?

Do I have a pervasive drive for autonomy? Yes. But the truth is, that’s not enough. It needs to be rooted in passion. It’s not just that I need autonomy, but that I need the ability to express that through the things I’m passionate about. I’ve always been known as a “work-a-holic” and as I’ve peeled the layers back, I’ve realized it’s so much deeper than perfectionism or personal value rooted in productivity. I have a burning need to fill my time with something I’m passionate about because otherwise, none of it matters. I worked in accounting for a while - it was completely autonomous - and I hated it. I had control over everything; there were concrete deadlines and expectations; I worked from home… and I was still miserable. I HAVE to be doing something that I feel makes a difference, somehow helps.


This is passion-driven autonomy. I choose this. I choose to express myself through my passion-driven work. It makes me feel alive and free. I don’t know; maybe I find similar fulfillment others get from personal relationships - and maybe that’s a good thing since I suck at the personal relationships anyway.


Here’s the thing - I couldn’t figure this out in the throes of burnout. There’s a difference between being driven by passion and not being able to drive at all. Or even find the keys, if we’re being honest, right?


I had to finish 20 hours of continuing education for my coaching certifications as I was simultaneously getting closer to the surface from burnout, which ended up being, well, divine timing.


It was also around the same that I took a week off of creating new content and three things became clear: 1) I realized getting back into pursing my passion was necessary to fully climb out of burnout; 2) my passion-drive actually keeps me out of burnout if I’m making the right accommodations elsewhere and 3) the first and second weren’t possible if I continued with the account as I had been up to the stopping point


I never set out to be a creator. On June 23, 2022, I started an account to explore potential neurodivergence (adhd at the time) and by the end of the year, it had turned into something I hadn’t expected. All happening while I was in autistic burnout and lost my cat - my soulmate, my rock, my everything – in the middle of it.


As my account grew, people would regularly ask for a place to start community – usually Discord. That’s not an app I’m familiar with and being that I was still in burnout and grieving, I just wasn’t in a place to take that on. Enter Joon who offered to help get it up and running while I focused on all the other deets and teets. Thus, the Co-Regulators community was officially born. For a while, I was operating under the assumption that I was using my account and working to help build community outside of the app. I was investing full time hours into this under the guise that the things I was doing to help generate streams of income to enable me to make this a permanent full-time venture for the community would be supported by the community I was doing it for. The reality was though, we couldn’t get the traction and support needed to generate any sort of reliable income. I know a lot of people don’t have the finances themselves and that was never an expectation, which is why we rely so heavily on word of mouth – sharing the content to help it reach people who do have the means. And as excited as people said they were about things, that rarely translated to the requested support needed for tangible results.


At the same time, I’m being more and more pigeonholed into autistic content - both by the algorithm and followers’ engagement. And if we know one thing about PDA, we know this means I’m triggered. But guess what I did? I fawned. Cool cool cool.


I tried harder. People asked for time and content, I’d provide it and ask for engagement reciprocity, and almost always the same result. I found myself in this pattern of giving my time and creating content to please others, hoping they’d engage in the ways I’d continued to ask but… nada. Everything felt like an uphill battle that I just could not win.


It became another situation where I was prioritizing others’ needs and demands, and in return, avoiding my own. That alone is an impediment to my ability to continue healing and moving forward. I cannot stay stuck in this one place doing the same thing, giving more than I'm getting. That’s not a referendum or an accusation toward anyone specific person individually and please know, there are a some who have been amazingly supportive and I appreciate you beyond words… but this has been my collective experience across platforms the last few months.


The reality is, for a while, I’ve not been creating content that people are consistently inspired to save and share and/or repost, even when I explicitly ask. I’ve been as open as I can without repercussion that this isn’t the old algorithm where a like and comment would keep a video going… it’s getting harder and harder; it takes shares, reposts, and follows. And that’s on top of the hours they want you to spend actually inside the app in order to prioritize content.


I’ve put so much in… answering peoples’ questions, providing emotional labor and support, on top of the content creation. 3-5 original videos per day, 3-5 stories per day, 1.5-3 hours LIVE per day, comments, messages… and I asked so little in return. There were days where all I wanted to do was curl up in my couch nest, but I got on LIVE because I knew others were depending on that support. So many things like this. And on the flip side, this isn’t even taking into account all of the negativity I deal with. I share really vulnerable things and that’s not without consequence to my emotional wellbeing sometimes. People say awful things and most of the time, I quickly block them because it dysregulates me so much more to give it any sort of attention. It can be really hurtful.


It's been hard not to feel incredibly... unliked and unvalued. It’s taken its toll on me mentally, physically, and emotionally. And it has all felt entirely too thankless recently. I have mostly felt anything but a part of any community.


It was obvious that I needed to change something.


After taking a step back from content and getting back into work, I remembered how much I freaking love learning about the brain and body because it’s really just a bunch of patterns; I felt reinvigorated. I realized I can’t talk about autism and adhd all the time. It was stifling my passion-drive and ability to financially provide for myself. It was keeping me in a state of burnout by pigeonholing me.


And it was blatantly clear how much time I was spending doing all of this – to the detriment of my financial, physical, and emotional wellbeing. It wasn’t sustainable.


I decided it’s time to start making content from my passion-drive. If people don’t share and save it, okay; I’m done begging for help or reciprocity. My RSD is DEFINITELY done. And so now, at least I’m creating stuff I’m passionate about; helpful in ways that are authentic to me and don’t make me feel resentful. I’m still inspired to help the community and provide tools, but I’m doing it my way now; a way that is hopefully much more sustainable.


If you’ve been following me for a while and are still here, that’s a large part of why you may have noticed a shift in my content lately. I need to use what I’m learning from extensive research on trauma, autistic and adhd brains, and the physiological impacts of those findings combined with what I know about muscles, movement, and the physiology of stress to share tools specific to us. I need to info-dump. I can’t cure anything, but I can help a lot of people feel just a little bit better playing the hand of cards they’ve been dealt.


I still enjoy sharing my late diagnosed autistic journey - verbally processing and helping us all reclaim shame - but at the end of the day, I want to - NEED to provide people tangible ways to use all these things I’m learning. I want to be relatable, but also an informational source… functional information… what can you do with what I’m providing?


And I need to financially support myself. I’ve never tried to make money off being autistic alone, but I do need to make a living from my profession, which is the body mechanics and nervous system stuff. Since I have opted out of all funds so I’m not tempted to create trendy click-bait instead of valuable/original content, and so that I'm not generally beholden to the algorithm and others’ engagement, I can’t spend gobs of time creating content exclusive to that platform anymore.


And so things are in a bit of a transition period right now, but the eventual PIVOT is that most content related to professional experience will be created for this blog, YouTube, or a combination. I'm going to be able to share a lot more information than I've been able to on other platforms because filming and editing are so time and energy consuming. It's really nice to be able to sit down and either share something helpful or just my random thoughts without all of the other steps... which is why I can share more. And I want to. This is also where I'll be sharing a lot of vulnerable thoughts as I process. It feels like a much safer space for me than social media.


I'm also offering more in-depth information with a subscription to the Bautie Sochanics blog – somatic mechanics for traumatized brains and bodies. This is where I’ll be sharing more technical information related to the nervous system and body mechanics, a first look at various things we’re working on in that realm, and a private group.


Let's talk Co-Regulators community.


The next step is to come on over to the new website from Discord if you choose. As I said, Discord was never my permanent plan, but Joon offered to get it up and running as an interim while I figured out the logistics of a more robust website for building a community. I’ve been working for weeks to build this website from scratch; I really hope you'll rejoin the Co-Regulators here, but the Discord community will remain in different name; I have transferred ownership of the server to Joon which she will rename and handle from this point forward.


For now, the Spaces app serves as a sufficient interim to the last step, which is transitioning to a branded app to make the community experience even more seamless if/when it’s financially feasible. My goal for the Co-Regulators is to provide tools and information, and a place where you can connect with one another, in a one-stop-shop. This new website experience will allow for this continued growth and I hope you’ll join and grow with us.


I’ll do a post about the groups and the forum (coming soon) in the near future so if you’re struggling with anything, please hang tight and hopefully your questions will be answered, and we can address anything else afterward.


Side bar: I also want to be clear that I’ve had so much help from Joon, and when I say “I,” I often mean “we,”, but I am writing this from my perspective and speaking for myself, which is why I’ve left Joon out of this. She’s been monumental in my life and for this community, and the pressure of wanting to be able to compensate her for her time is immense, and a large part of what drives me every day to find ways to do that.


Hope to see you here for all the deets and teets,

Shauna


You can join the Co-Regulators Group here

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