So today (18th June) is Autistic Pride Day. I figured I’ll scribble something and in a year come back to it and see if my viewpoints changed. I change opinions a lot, but at the core I do not feel like I am a different person than I was when I was 10 for example. I just grew bigger, experienced some stuff, modified behaviors, but I never felt like I have changed as a person. Is it good or bad? I don’t know.
What is pride to me? It’s hard to tell. I do feel something like pride because of the realization that I haven’t changed as a person, but it’s not about being the same, it’s about self-awareness and knowing who I am. I knew who I was when I was younger, and I know who I am now. This clarity and acceptance, honesty with myself, is something I do feel proud of. Despite the fact that there are things I irrationally feel ashamed of. Like when I mentioned that my hyperempathy makes me feel ashamed. I don’t even know if this is really being ashamed, maybe flustered? I just don’t want to make others feel bad because of my emotional reaction to their feelings. I was also ridiculed a lot for being so sensitive. I was also detested for being cold and brutal. I am still learning to find myself in social contexts, and to understand why people feel this way.
Other than that, pride is the fact that I do not allow others to step on me. It’s the pride in my dignity. I refuse to hide myself and contain myself for the sake of comfort of others. I respect myself, and I want to respect the people around me, but it needs to go both ways. I will not stay in situations when someone is clearly insulting me, be it directly with words, or just with their actions, regardless if it was intentional or not.
A good example would be mansplaining – sometimes men genuinely want to help you, but at the same time they just by default assume that you’re dumber than them and need their help. I’m just going to say ‘I know‘, and move on, I refuse to engage in the whole act where you have to pretend to be dumb to not hurt someone’s feelings. I know this makes me arrogant to other people, but I stand by it. I cannot view self-respect as something bad. I need to mask a lot of my behaviors on a daily basis anyways, and it is exhausting. It is a point of pride to me as well that I will not act fully like a regular person. I bend backwards to suit the people, but I refuse to go full way in this, if people want to live well with me as well, they need to do their part too. Without seeing this effort I will just remove myself from the situation, I will not do all the work. After all, I do not need them by my side, so I am free to do as I please.
As a professional autist though, I know I often do not recognize these things, and I have an epithany regarding what the situations meant long after they happen. I need to rely on my Love or friends to explain things to me and provide a perspective on behaviors of others. What I take pride in is that I don’t fear asking for help, and I accept my limitations and weak spots.
Pride to me is that I do not feel insecure in general about my weak spots. I am a human being, I do wrong, I am wrong, I fail, I lack, I am limited. There is nothing to be ashamed of, and I take pride in the fact that I look towards learning and improving, and finding applications for my strengths. It allows me to be honest with myself and with other people. I see no reason to hide, to pretend, to act. I do not fear judgement from others. They are entitled to make their own judgements, as I am to make mine.
What I care about is to be understood and seen for what I am. I don’t want others to see me as better or worse than I really am. And to me this is also pride.
Am I proud to be autistic? Not really. I would say a little bit it did make me feel insecure, because to me this was a revelation that showed me that I didn’t know all there was to me and my social context.
What really is autism? It is just a funny word, often misused, to name something that naturally exists, without being an anomaly. So what does it really mean? To me it only means that the majority of people felt the need to put a name on set of characteristics that me and people like me have. There is some misunderstanding, but also mutual interest between us. There is nothing to be proud of, or ashamed of really, but it did feel bad at first.
Why it felt bad? So far I figured that I need to feel like I am in control of myself and my life, but to be in control you need sufficient information, and trust in the tools you possess, in this case being your mind. Your mind and your body are your main tools to investigate self and the world. Your entire being is a tool. So when you realize your tool has missed something very crucial since the beginning, it feels like a failure and insecurity, because you doubt the trust you can have in yourself.
It’s a different situation than just learning a new thing, because if I go into a room and explore all there is, I learn more and more about the items I investigate, but then I realize it took me 25+ years of life to figure out that this giant thing in the middle of the room, the thing that has four bulky legs, a small tail, some giant tusks, ears, a trunk, stares at me and makes weird noises, is an elephant. On one hand there is the excitement that I finally figured it out and learned something, but on the other I feel disappointment in myself, and a sense of defeat, because of how long it took me. I know I am good at figuring things out, but this one seemingly easy task took me so long, especially since a handful of people already told me ‘pssst, this is an elephant‘, and I brushed it off.
But at the same time I do feel some pride? Is it really pride though? I feel happy because I realized that I am a very high-functioning person, and masking myself for so many years made me insightful towards human nature in general, I feel like I can make sense of both worlds, and perhaps I could convey the differences to people who would like to understand the other side. I often need help understanding neurotypical people, but I also am good enough in describing things about myself, that I could translate the ‘weird’ behaviors of neurodivergent people to the neurotypicals. It brought me a new skill tree to explore, and that makes me very excited.
I always understood so many things that people normally see as extremely weird and even bad, and sometimes at first I didn’t make sense of it either, for example all sorts of extravagant genders. But then I realized, a lot of it is just autistic expressions, and now that I realized they are speaking my language, not the regular human language, I do understand it, and I feel like I can explain it.
I bet it still will take open-minded and intelligent units to make sense of it, I cannot just enforce everyone to understand, but the potential is giant and I definitely am going to explore some of the controversial concepts on this blog. I now see the purpose of it, because without knowing about autism I just assumed that these things are obvious for everyone and do not need to be addressed, just for some reason those neurodivergents acting weird are always heavily bullied.
This makes me feel great, because I can utilize some of my strengths and do something helpful. I am looking forward to reading this in a year. After going through my list of books, and exploring more about myself and the neurodivergent / neurotypical differences.