Tell us a little bit about yourself?
Hey hey, I’m Suraia, currently in my mid-thirties. I live in the Netherlands with my husband, two dogs and two kids. Since I take care of the house, the dogs and the kids I do not have a paid job at the moment. I spend my time trying to get the house in order and taking care of my kids and the dogs. I spend a lot of time behind the computer when I can but I also like to make cards every now and then or do other arts and crafts.

What are your hobbies?
I am actually a real life mermaid and I want to try out cosplay as well. A couple of nights a week I play World of Warcaft, either to just enjoy the game or to roleplay in it. I like to write short stories for the aftermath or in between RP in WoW and I also make stories up there as a dungeon master. Sometimes when I have inspiration I try and draw something as well, I either color it with copics on paper or on the computer if I feel really fancy and have a lot of time, which I never have actually… When mermaiding I always take my camera with me to make pictures and movies but I am by no means a professional in that regard. I did make my current mermaid tail myself and a couple of pieces of outfits for the Elf Fantasy Fair or larp I used to do. I had to stop larping because we couldn’t combine it with the kids and the dogs anymore.

I like all these hobbies because they are centered around persona’s in a fantasy themed setting. I mostly like the more personal aspect of it, so I like to have my own characters and play with them as well with others. I love the visual aspect, digital as well as in real life and that is why I like to try and bring my characters to life with stories, drawings, rendered pictures, costumes and everything. I’m a huge fan of roleplaying and the social aspect of it. I can write a story by myself, but that wouldn’t give me any input from others. Though input from others isn’t always very positive, it is often very surprising and leads to possible situations I wouldn’t have thought of myself.

I have also attempted to make costumes for hubby but I’m not really good at that.

Tell us about your uniqueness?
I’ve always been seen as a silent and sort of shy person who isn’t outgoing and doesn’t really engage with others much. Back in school I often only had one or two friends. It took me till I was in my mid-twenties, after my brother got diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome to go to the doctor and get diagnosed as well. Both of us had to discover for ourselves that we weren’t ‘normal’ and we both had to seek out a diagnoses ourselves. It was my brothers research that led me to realize that I was different too and that the struggles I had and to this day still have aren’t because there is something wrong with me. It’s just that my brain processes information differently which leads me to sometimes react differently then people would expect. Sadly this has led to many misunderstandings in the past and since I didn’t know I was autistic, nor did I know how to deal with this I ended up blaming myself and thinking there was something wrong with me.

How did people treat you for being different?
If I even was ever bullied at school it wasn’t very obvious. I guess I learned very quickly to keep to myself and pretend to not notice anything if I got the idea that other people were talking about me behind my back. But this did lead to me thinking that people were possibly talking behind my back and avoiding them, I just crawled further into my own shell.

This meant that I spend most of my youth feeling and being invisible. I loved anything fantasy and started roleplaying on forums and making up my own fantasy settings for roleplay or thinking up stories of grand adventures with several heroic characters.

It didn’t really matter what I did, I just never really fit in anywhere. Yet I did keep searching for a place I could feel at home and actually be myself, I just never found one.

When and how did you change this?
Even before my diagnosis I discovered the fantasy world through the Elf Fantasy Fair, it was one of the first places where I really felt at home and at ease. And even though I would dress up to go to the fair with hubby and my mom I was there, but I was more spectating and not really participating. I saw other people being asked for their picture to be taken by many people and part of me wanted that too. I guess I wanted to be noticed, yet when I did I mostly froze up, not really knowing what to do.

Through the Elf Fantasy Fair I discovered larping and with hubby I went to my first larp. It took me a couple of attempts at larping and a couple of characters before I found a character that suited me and I got to know the people I was larping with personally. Half of the time I had a great time, but the other half I still felt misunderstood, like I was doing it wrong.

Then my brother was diagnosed and after that I got my own diagnosis. For a while I had a therapist and he did help me put a lot of things in perspective. It didn’t change what happened in the past, but it did make me realize, that none of it was actually my fault.

Through mermaiding and online MMO’s I came in contact with more people who were different. I started to realize that a lot of ‘normal’ people are quick to judge someone on what they see as flaws rather than highlighting the things that make people unique or special. I realized that this was much less so in the fantasy community. Here a lot of people were way more accepting of diversity overall.

I have learned that you just need to surround yourself with the right people. When you feel at ease and you are doing something you love you naturally have this bolstered feeling of confidence that I normally don’t have. And it makes me feel so happy and brave and up to doing things I normally wouldn’t dare. Sometimes it would feel like I’m glowing. Sure, there still are people who look at you funny or with that disapproving look, but the simple truth is that I don’t care what they think when I’m in the zone as it were. Even if they would say something about it I just smile at them and nearly take it as a compliment because in that moment I am unique and I’m not afraid to show it. And that just makes me feel awesome.

Are you part of any special group(s)?
I was part of an amazing larp group in the Netherlands. Since I had to stop larping the contact is much less now, but we still are in contact every now and then. I get invited to birthday parties every now and then so I can say hello and listen to their larp and D&D adventures mostly.

I am also part of the Moonlight Mermaids, we are a very small pod mostly just focusing on friendship and doing fun stuff together which is mostly mermaiding or cosplay related. We also did some mermaiding for charity which was awesome. You could say I’m one of the founders or initiators of this pod since I expressed my desire to belong to a pod to the lovely Celtic Mermaid Oceana and she talked to some mutual mermaid friends of ours and we then started the pod. These girls are just amazing people who are likeminded, friendly and accepting of everyone to just be who they are. We lift each other up and have a great time doing that. There is no pressure in this pod only acceptance, friendship and patience.

Apart from that I started a small community in World of Warcraft to find likeminded people who want to join me and are compatible with my preferred style of Roleplaying. Being behind the computer makes it easier yet at the same time harder to do things. I more often experience both the good and the bad within the roleplaying community. Within my own community I can try and do things my way and I know ‘the rules’ since I sort of made them myself. But we also have a much better out of character contact and communication which simply is key to getting an awesome RP experience and diving deeper into actual roleplay that goes far beyond drinking in a tavern or travelling from place A to place B and maybe killing a few creatures along the way.

What do you hope to do in the next year or two?
Lately I’ve been looking more and more into diversity and what I’ve mostly noticed is that people don’t know enough about it. We live in a world where those who shout the loudest and are more dominant then other are heard the most and get the most attention. When people like that are spreading misinformation a lot of people will accept this as the truth. That is why we have to raise awareness about the actual truth.

I know I am neither loud nor dominant. But this doesn’t make me any less important then any other person. Even if everything I do only reaches a couple of people and makes them change their view on diversity then I would already call it a success. These people might talk to some other people, this is how we get a ball rolling, maybe it’s rolling slowly, but it’s still rolling nevertheless.

That is why I made this website, I want to use it as a sort of archives for my adventures in the fantasy world. I’m focusing here on Mermaiding, Cosplay and maybe Larp if that would be in my future. I also want to feature other people in this same world who are unique so we can show that we are out there one at a time if we have too. It is my hope to come into contact with likeminded people and make Feelii’s Cove come to life as a virtual meeting place on the internet.

At the moment I am trying to find ways for me to earn some money so I can buy a new monovin and tail for mermaiding. I am looking into designing my own mermaid tail to be printed onto fabric, but I am not sure if I can actually do this. I would love to do more things as a mermaid to raise awareness for diversity, kindness and the environment. This is also why I have stepped away from wanting to make a sequin tail or wearing a synthetic wig in the water. If I want to promote a plastic free ocean, I shouldn’t be swimming in it with things that shed plastic.

For cosplay I have my first cosplay Princess Serenity from Sailor Moon and when I get the time I want to try and make my first ever prop. But at this moment my children and mermaiding are more important.

I would love to get some actual experience in doing a professional photoshoot, but I sadly simply don’t have the money to just pay for one at the moment. Since I’m also not extroverted and have no experience posing at all I do find the idea of doing a photoshoot a bit scary, yet I would love to have some good pictures of my mersona and cosplay at some point.

What are your wishes for the future?
I hope to raise awareness to the fact that this world only facilitates to a specific kind of person, but that there actually are a lot more different people out there. It is my wish that this is acknowledged and that the world might change to better facilitate everyone and not just the assertive or loud ‘normal’ people.

I want to see my children grow up to be kind and accepting of everyone. I want them and everyone else to have an equal chance at everything. If I can somehow contribute to creating this world by using my website and participating in activities to raise awareness then that would be great. I know change isn’t easy and nothing ever happens if people just don’t try and change things. Yet change doesn’t have to come through violence and force and sometimes even aggression. Those aren’t the things we want to stand for, so it shouldn’t be the thing needed to start this change.

For me personally I would maybe someday hope to own a full silicone tail for mermaiding and have some really lovely cosplays and larp characters. It would be great if some people would know me like: ‘Hey, that is Suraia, the openly autistic person who inspired me for this or that.’

It would be my dream to somehow collaborate with other people who want the same thing as I do to work together in raising awareness and get that ball rolling faster and faster. This can be done through online projects, or if they happen to be in the Netherlands through a possible meet-up to do things together.

Also virtual reality… I’ll just keep on dreaming.

Is there anything else you want to share?
Even though change isn’t easy, it only takes one person to start something. It takes courage to do something, but it doesn’t matter if it’s big or small. The fact that you try will already affect other people. And if one thing doesn’t work, try something else. Even though results are nice, at the end of the day the most important thing is the fact that you were busy with something, that you are trying.

What advice would you give others that are also unique?
The best thing you can do is to find that special something that you love doing and then go and do that. Search for people with similar interests. If you surround yourself with people who accept you for who you are and who support or share your idea’s and the things you like, you will flourish. They will built you up and you will be awesome, because you are! And no one can take that away from you, no matter how hard they might try.

Social Media handles:
You are already on my website.
Discord: Suraia#6757