10 October, 2022 Aurélie Salvaire

During the last months, I have decided to engage in a full neuro-psychological analysis, including tests about cognitive, social, sensorial and emotional abilities.

The result being that I have been officially assessed neurodiverse, my cognitive profile highlighting the presence of a High Intellectual Potential. HIP refers to anybody with an IQ superior to 130 and represents around 2% of the population.

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This “giftedness” has pros and cons.

On the bright side, it means that I have a brain that works extremely fast without being aware of it, that I thrive with multitasking, new projects and challenges, that I have a powerful memory, over efficient language skills and reasoning (which explains a lot of my work in writing, storytelling and public speaking), a high sensitivity to others’ emotions and feelings, an important level of empathy and a high speed of information, a superior intellectual efficiency and very high curiosity or craving for knowledge, a strong sensory sensitivity (noises, cold weather, clothes labels or scratchy fabrics…) and a heightened creativity, focus, and innovation.

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On the less bright side, it means that I am subject to higher stress and anxiety, that I have a low inhibition and a high impulsivity, that my high rhythm makes me often impatient and less adapted to the general rhythm of processes and people, that I have to make extra efforts to regulate my emotions which are deeply affected by my environment, that I often have the feeling that I don’t fit in, that I feel extremely bored when my intellect is not stimulated and that this boredom leads very quickly to sadness and depression, that I have difficulty to manage frustrations, that I can be hyperactive and restless sometimes driving myself to exhaustion.

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HPI is mostly linked to genetic and biological factors. And a part of me thinks that my mum was probably an HPI herself. Yet, since the majority of research on neurodevelopmental conditions like autism and ADHD has been focused on boys and men, women are often overlooked. Misdiagnosed as anxious, depressed, or simply “sensitive,” many women don’t learn about their neurological differences until they are adults.

HPI people are neurodiverse. Neurodiversity entails people who have a different brain functioning and also covers people with ADHD (5% of the population), people with autism or Asperger syndrome (1% of the population), people with dyslexia or Tourette, Highly Sensitive People and many more…

In total, 10-15% of people around the world are neurodiverse.

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 Neurodiversity is also highly linked with mental health as there is a higher propensity to experience depression, anxiety and stress.

Neurodiversity is finally connected to gender. Gender identities that differ from biological sex (non-cisgender identities) appear to be more common in autism and neurodiversity.


In her book Divergent Mind, Jenara Nerenberg explains how many women realize later in life that their mental-health challenges had been rooted in unrecognized attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or autism.

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The result, Nerenberg suggests, is a “lost generation” of women, riddled with shame and low self-esteem, who “have no name for their life experiences and feelings.” With her new book Divergent Mind: Thriving in a World That Wasn’t Designed for You, Nerenberg hopes to empower “women who have a deep sense that they are ‘different’ from the norm but would never in a million years think they ‘have’ ADHD, Asperger’s, and some other neurodivergent trait.”

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This means that so many smart, sensitive and gifted women, limited by patriarchy to the boring routine of household management, have fell into depression and died. It means that so many smart, sensitive and gifted women have been called crazy and locked up or drugged.

Neurodiversity is part of the efforts of Diversity and Inclusion, as much as gender, race, religion, social class, physical ability or age.

 My journey to this diagnosis has started in December 2019, in Toulouse, in a professional event where another HPI, facilitator and clown, told me: “I am sure you are one too”. Neurodiverse people tend to spot each other. Intrigued by this conversation, I started reading on the topic, books such as “Je pense trop” from Christel Petitcollin or “Asperger et fière de l’être” from Alexandra Reynaud.

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I started to recognize myself in those books. It made sense. I never thought of myself as a specifically gifted person. It had always been easy for me to learn, to study and to perform so this easiness made it natural, organic. I thought it was pretty similar for most of us.

Also because after not fitting in too much during my childhood, I progressively created an environment of similar souls, hypersensitive, restless and craving for justice.

In 2021, I decided to pursue a professional diagnosis with different psychologists in Spain and in France. The result is not really a surprise to me, but it explains a lot of things…

It’s been the difficulty to find a job environment where I thrive instead of mutilating parts of my soul to fit in, it’s been the deep research of meaning and especially professional meaning throughout my entire life, it’s been being bored to death in so many low stimulating environments, being deemed self-centered and not enough empathetic by friends or colleagues when I could not understand why they could not handle a complex situation, it’s been being fired for challenging the norms, feeling depressed for sensing that my potential was wasted and squandered, having existential crisis every six months.

It’s been feeling lonely so many times, struggling to find a romantic partner that could keep up with my pace, feeling that I annoy my entourage with my existential questions, it’s been dealing with constant emotional ups and downs, joy and enthusiasm but also deep sadness, loneliness and sometimes even suicidal thoughts.

It’s been recognizing myself in some of the traits of Sheldon Cooper of The Big Bang Theory, it’s been people telling me that I have a very strong energy, family members being overwhelmed by the books, articles, podcasts recommendations I send them when this rhythm of knowledge absorption feels perfectly normal to me, it’s been being able to improvise very easily, to train or speak in public with very short notice without any problem, thriving when a challenge requires to mobilize my brain at a high efficiency level.

It’s been never understanding why we need to live in ONE place and have ONE career, It’s been being a “multipotentialite” or slasher and thriving with different projects and sources of income at the same time, it’s been engaging in unbalanced relationships where my empathy and deep listening skills for my partner’s stories and traumas were hardly matched in return.

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It’s been asking the waiters to turn the music down or leaving a shop because of the blasting noise, it’s been implementing a project or an initiative two minutes after having had the idea of it, it’s been sending emails without requesting previous authorization, it’s been disobeying rules I deem stupid or useless, it’s been feeling deeply hurt by injustice.

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It’s been feeling strongly depressed when the weather is cold and humid, when there is no light or sunshine for a few days, it’s been feeling sad when staying in an accommodation with no heating or cosy decoration, it’s been feeling deeply lonely after spending one or 2 days on my own, it’s being totally bored in meetings who could be summarized in an email, having no patience listening to people who do not go straight to the point, it’s been not sleeping at night after a conflict with friends or colleagues, it’s been struggling to find THE right career path before acknowledging I would have to create my own, it’s been not studying medicine when after a hospital internship I understood at 14 I would be too deeply moved by my patients diseases or deaths.

Image source: https://www.theminiadhdcoach.com

It’s been being rejected by some romantic partners for being perceived as needy and overwhelming when HPI crave for deep emotional connexions, it’s been understanding from a very young age what my parents were feeling or needed and sometimes acting as an adult or a therapist when I shouldn’t have, it’s being able to pinpoint instinctively the defining moment in my interlocutor’s life story, it’s been annoying my boss because I quickly end up telling him/her what they have to do, not out of arrogance but because it seems obvious to me and I think it would be beneficial to the organization, it’s been losing jobs or clients for being blunt and honest, for not aligning, complying or being silent enough.

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It’s been writing my personal blogs in one go as if they were writing themselves organically in my head and flowing naturally from there, it’s been feeling bad for not being able to settle down, being labeled an eternally unsatisfied person by friends or boyfriends, a greedy and unstable one by colleagues, it’s been people reproaching me that I go too fast, that I give them the answer before having listened to the whole question, that I am too unsettled and emotional.

It’s been neurotypical colleagues being afraid of my hyperactivity, feeling threatened by my rhythm or considering that I am dispersing myself when for me everything is actually clearly connected with the higher purpose, it’s hearing all my life “You ask yourself too many questions! Stop thinking! Don’t worry! You take everything too personal!” as if I could do something about it, it’s been losing friends or boyfriends for being too much, for wanting more, all the time.

And so many more things that I haven’t identified yet…

But I guess that at 42, it is easier to accept yourself for who you are. My goal now is to understand even better this topic of neurodiversity and to connect with other people who have also felt as the odd one out for so long.

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Because this is part of changing the narrative about being sensitive, about being a smart woman with emotional needs and the will to carve a path of her own, about challenging mental health stigma and about celebrating our unique gifts in a truly inclusive society.

So if you have a HIP in your team, remember:

  • he or she is not here to take your place! HIP individuals want to work well and fast, and they will have multiple ideas to improve quality and productivity. Their satisfaction lies in seeing the results of the ideas they are behind.
  • They are curious, eager to learn and want to share. They need to have several things to do at the same time and are generally hyper-efficient when working on things they are comfortable and interested in. They reason extremely quickly because they are unconsciously establishing links between all the elements of a problem. They do not always know how to give a linear explanation about how they achieve their results. This means that they may sometimes not be taken seriously. However, most of the time, they have the correct solution long before everyone else.
  • If you are ready to accept that the HIP member of your team is more advanced than you are in some aspects of your work, you will be able to put their capacities to the service of the entire team you both belong to.
  • If you have open-minded discussions with them and take account of their ideas, even the ones that seem completely out of the box, you might be pleasantly surprised!
10 July, 2021 Aurélie Salvaire

After many years working in women empowerment and diversity in neighboring Pakistan, I was given the unique opportunity to come to Kabul for six weeks to deliver an exceptional Leadership training course for our Afghan women staff.

It had been six months in the making.

The intensification of the conflict between the Talibans and the Afghan army, the imminent withdrawal of the International Military Forces probably leading to a darker future, the current drought plaguing the country and on top of it all, the multiple waves of Covid epidemic did not make it easy.

The armored vehicle that welcomed me went through the multiple security check points and crossed the town to join the ICON compound, east of the airport.

Surrounded by thick walls and barbed wires, constantly overflown by helicopters or military planes displacing Afghan troops or evacuating American military, the working atmosphere is relatively tense to say the least.

Afghanistan is one the most challenging duty stations of WFP, and the third largest operation in the world so the security concerns are omnipresent. Every day, security alerts flood your email account, each staff member must report their presence by radio check before 10pm, and the surrounding fireworks celebrations or carrier blasts can often be misinterpreted for worse.

The universe is suddenly reduced to your room, your office, the cafeteria and the gym for six weeks out of seven. And Covid has just added an extra layer of tension in this already anxiogenic environment. Given the fourth wave currently happening and the saturation of local hospitals, masks have to be worn at all times, gatherings are reduced to four people and the contact cases are immediately isolated in their rooms for 14 days. So the atmosphere is far from festive, and the dreaded PCR results are the gateway to the sporadic family or friends reunions. That is, if the commercial flights are not suspended and the evacuation measures not in place.

So kudos to our international team on the ground.

Yet, this is nothing compared to our national staff’s reality, and especially our women national staff, putting themselves at risk every day for working in a UN agency in the current political context. Most of them prefer to not mention it to their family or friends, and do not appear on LinkedIn or any social media.  

The country office has made significant progress in the last two years passing from 47 national women staff in September 2018 to 82 now amounting to 19% of the total and four more under recruitment. Instead of sending a few chosen ones to international trainings in Bangkok, the HR decided to give the opportunity to all the national women team, even the ones from the field offices who flew in specially for the occasion from Kandahar, Jalalabad, Herat, Faizabad or Mazar-e-Sharif.

Each cohort of 10-15 participants gathered in the dimly lighted UNHCR bunker for three consecutive days and, despite the social distancing, managed to create special bonds among each other. They practiced public speaking imagining themselves future presidents of Afghanistan, they shared tips on how to navigate a hostile working environment where they might not always be as valued as they should, they mapped out their professional and personal objectives in a volatile world. They have identified the structural barriers limiting their progression and explored solutions at an individual and systemic level.

The participants have shared their role models such as Afghan poet Rabia Balkhi or national heroine Malalai of Maiwand. They have also learned to know themselves better through MBTI (Myers-Briggs Type Indicator) tests and sharing their lifemaps. They have learned about the different types of leadership (autocratic, delegative, democratic…), the difference between a boss and a leader, and the qualities of inclusive leaders.

We talked about self-care, sisterhood and empowerment. The Country Director came every week to share her lifepath and her experience coming from an Irish family of 11 kids and rising to the cusp of leadership in the organization. This training is part of the capacity development effort since most of women national talent is still quite junior and there is a strong aspiration to reach leadership positions at national or international level in the coming years. The strong bonds among them will be instrumental in the months to come to maintain their motivation intact and ultimately cross the glass ceiling to the highest positions.

In a national context where only 19% of the women participate in the workforce and the adult women literacy rate is 20%, these women are an exception.

They are smart and bold. They are resilient and powerful.

They are the future of the country. And I am truly honored to have met them.

Nobody deserves more our admiration than the women national staff of WFP Afghanistan.

14 April, 2020 Aurélie Salvaire

Last week, we were thrilled to organize our first virtual bootcamp!

Given the current circumstances, we wanted to bring love and support to our beautiful community!

From Monday 6th to Friday 10th of April, every afternoon, we gathered to talk freely about how women all around the world are experiencing the current situation.

In the middle of the stress and the uncertainty, we wanted to offer a safe space to share stories, learn from each other and have fun!

We talked about love and sex under lockdown, the best series to watch or how to take care of our mental health!

We dreamt about the future and celebrate sisterhood together!

More than 200 women registered for our 5 sessions!

From Peru to Japan, from Mexico to Pakistan, Rwanda or Saudi Arabia, it was an opportunity to think the future together!

Here is a quick summary:

Monday 6th of April – 5 pm CET – Love and sex under lockdown

Our relationships are pretty strained during these times. How do you cope? If you are living with your partner, how is it going? If you are physically separated from your partner, how does it feel? If you do not currently have a partner, what is your experience?

We all shared how confinement and social isolation were affecting our relationships. Some were very thankful for their partner. Some were suffering deeply from the physical separation. Some were exploring online dating.

Here are the links that were shared:

Resources for single ladies…
Some books to read:
Little fires everywhere or Blindness
Some were praising the LELO brand… 🙂
How will we live after?
An interesting event sharing resources for our mental health…

Tuesday 7th of April – 5 pm CET –  Having fun in times of crisis. 

What do you do to have fun and laugh? What is the greatest series you binge-watched? The old movies you enjoyed? The dancing routine you have put in place? Share your tips to brighten your mood! 

Some links to share:
– Some circuses offer their shows online for free
Netflix Party chrome extension allows you to watch movies with friends

Dancing is always a good option!!!

Or a Cardio Latin Work Out

For games and parties, check House Party or Stay the Fuck Home Bar!!!

If I can’t dance, I don’t want to be part of your revolution. Emma Goldman.

Wednesday 8th of April – 5 pm CET: Self-care Wednesday. 

How do you take care of your mental health during this lockdown? How do you manage your anxiety? What about your physical health? Do you feel pressured to still conform to beauty standards? 

The participants shared their Self care checklist: journal, read and do yoga and manifestation. Take time for my meals! I also do wellness selfcare twice a week on Sunday and Wednesday where I look after my body with some pampering!

Here is an event on April 23rd on mental health tips.

Interesting videos on mental health: 

A community of women entrepreneurs: https://www.ogunte.com/

The Art and Practice of Loving: Living a Heartfelt Yes http://www.heartfeltyes.com/read/

“Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.” Audre Lorde

Self care needs to be a harmony between mind, body, and soul. It requires to keep the boundaries and keep away from all forms of dramas to go towards soul liberation.
You can watch the meditations of Tara Brach on this topic! Some organize a full moon ceremony to let go and a new moon ceremony for what they want to invite in their lives.

This too shall pass

A few more links:

The book Why We Sleep from Matthew Walker 




The book Lost Connections on Depression and Well Being

For the physical activity, we talked about Yoga with Adrienne as well as cardio activity, kickboxing and capoeira (movement, singing, percussion, loads of soul)

Thursday 9th of April – 5 pm CET –  Sisterhood is powerful.  

How do you support your sisters out there? How do women from different countries experiment with the situation? What can you do to show up for them? 

What is sisterhood for you?

A few ideas came out: Free of judgement
, notion of tribe
, pushing each other to succeed instead of bringing each other down.
 The feeling that you are not alone and people are here to support
We tend to overcomplicate things and all we need is the connection.

A few tips:

1. Take on mentees 

2. Do a monthly checkin with sisters 

3. Make time to meet them physically

Bring up the idea of sisterhood/sorority to my close girl friends and introduce the political aspect of it, hopefully creating a stronger bond between us

Role model to younger sisters the importance of women supporting women. In my case, I think it’s important for my daughter to see the value of authentic female connections.

6. Compliment other women. And challenging them when they don’t accept the compliment. 

7. Start your own group of eco-feminists
. If the political and scientific power is better shared with women we can change our world in a better sustainable world.

Ecofeminism is a branch of feminism that sees environmentalism, and the relationship between women and the earth, as foundational to its analysis and practice. Ecofeminist thinkers draw on the concept of gender to analyse the relationships between humans and the natural world.

Ecosomatics is an emerging interdisciplinary field which connects embodiment practices such as dance and the healing arts with ecological consciousness.

Women for Climate justice : https://gendercc.net/home.html

Friday 10th of April – 5 pm CET – What’s next? 

What is your dream for the after lockdown? At a personal and global level? What do you think will change? Are we heading towards a more feminist and inclusive future? Or towards more control and totalitarianism? What is your hope and vision? What is our role designing this new phase? 

Here are the links we shared:





Charles Eisenstein: 


Podcast version of his text “Coronation”: 


This is already a very good article: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/apr/07/what-coronavirus-can-teach-us-about-hope-rebecca-solnit?fbclid=IwAR3aHcWoCkJNqhnkUSCd6hb5s9kJd8pneIGbrWOtVZrOz6KGNJs8RKYMs-I

Bruno Latour suggested 6 questions to help people choose what activities they want to keep, what they want to stop and by what we would like to replace them (sorry its in french) : http://www.bruno-latour.fr/fr/node/851.html


French NGO Alternative organise conference on line to prepare a feminist, ecologist and social world : https://alternatiba.eu/2020/04/pour-un-jour-d-apres/

#philanthrophy  #changeleadership  #moneytalks #FinancialLeadership

For German speakers: dreaming about the immediate future (2022):


FOR JOBS: https://blog.movingworlds.org/social-impact-jobs-in-europe/  

There is also GAIA initiative (based on U Theory): https://www.presencing.org/gaia

Build our relationships with neighbours

Take time to read articles / books to be prepared for after

Take time to look / feel / listen to nature

Infiltrating the political groups and NGO, now they open their group, at least in France, they are invited anybody who wants changes

Reach out to friends who are not convinced by feminism

yes planting and watering seeds in our close environment (family, friends, colleagues ..) we have plenty of time right now, and them too


Feminist group from Peru:

Next steps

Given the reception, we have decided to go on with a regular weekly session every Friday at 5pm CET in order to share the vision we have of the future world! So stay tuned on our social media and join us online!

Stay safe!

5 May, 2019 Aurélie Salvaire

This month of May, we came back to Addis Ababa, 10 years after having worked there with Oxfam!

Join our workshop there!

We first ran a storytelling workshop there for female gamechangers at XHUB!

A summary of our time there!

We then welcomed the young social entrepreneurs of the Changemaker Exchange summit on Gender Justice!

3 days out of the city at Liesak resort to explore potential collaborations! We will come back soon!

14 April, 2019 Aurélie Salvaire

It had been almost one year that we had left Pakistan so it was time to come back for different amazing events and workshops!

We first had the opportunity to run our Hackathon on Gender equity solutions in collaboration with Facebook Developer Circles from Islamabad!

With the amazing Sidra and Saima, organizers of the Hackathon!

Then we ran a storytelling workshop within National Incubation Center of Islamabad thanks to the DEMO team!

The fantastic Demo team!
With the proud participants!

Then we headed to Lahore for more storytelling and power boosting workshops with the amazing women from Abacus!

We also attended the first Pakistan Tourism Summit in Islamabad.

And it was finally time to enjoy some local music by some great female Djs before heading back home!