People of Georgian: Alumnus celebrates the weirdness of life
April 01, 2022

What’s your story?

The Georgian community is full of unique, inspiring perspectives —and we’re sharing them as part of an ongoing series.

People of Georgian: Meet Dan Hendley

I’m autistic. I just learned that a year and a half ago; I was diagnosed weeks before I turned 24.

It was a real eye-opening experience for me.

Right after I learned, I immediately started searching online. I was looking on YouTube trying to find other autistic people, especially other people who were diagnosed later in life, talking about their experiences.

When you see somebody else who’s similar to you in a certain way, it makes you feel better about yourself. It makes you want to accept everyone else, too.

One person with black hair, red sweatshirt and black pants, kneels in front of another person with curly, red hair, yellow shirt and pants, in front of a blue backdrop.

Inspiring others to embrace their own ‘weirdness’

A lot of my friends are autistic, and I didn’t really put together why until my diagnosis.

I think it would be a better world if people would just be themselves, however that may be. 

My fiancé, Monica, and I run a business together that embraces and celebrates the weirdness in life.

We’re a little weird, a little quirky – however you want to label us, this is who we are. Hopefully we’ll inspire some people to embrace their own weirdness.

When we talk about weird or different, that label is something people usually try to put on someone else to put them down.

I was bullied as a kid, and Monica as well. We know the way that it feels to not be accepted and the pressure to be someone that you’re not.

“It’s OK to be different; you don’t have to be like everybody else.”

Dan Hendley

We want to spread the message that it’s OK to be different; you don’t have to be like everybody else. In fact, being different is something that should be celebrated.

Two people stand outside in the woods and take a selfie. One is wearing a toque, colourful sweater, and a pink T-shirt with a colourful design on it. The other person has chin-length brown hair, beard, and is wearing a purple sweater with a colourful design on it.

We want to build a little community where all the outcasts and misfits out there feel like they belong.

There are enough people out there who are trying to do the same thing, or trying to do what they think is the right version of something.

When we have more people who are truly trying to be themselves, we get a more creative, compassionate and accepting world.

Dan Hendley, alumnus from Georgian’s Digital Photography and Imaging program (class of 2016). Co-creator of Danica Daydreams.