In this world that we live in, everything is confusing. I walk into a room, and feel anxious because trying to understand what is socially ‘acceptable, is hard, especially because it always changing, always moving. The world is full of grey areas, large parts of life that aren’t black and white.
But it is black and white isn’t? You’re either right or wrong; understood or misunderstood; it’s left or right. You can’t be in the middle. And when it is grey, it’s confusing. I get scared because I just don’t understand what is going on. It’s like everyone around me got a manual when they were born, of how to act, react, when it’s appropriate to tell someone what you think, when you need to move on from your topic of conversation, when you can be angry and when you can’t, what you can say in one context but not another.
As you can imagine, it causes me so much anxiety, because I have to work all this out when I walk into a room. Which means sometimes I get it wrong. Sometimes I will say something deep and meaningful when everyone is having a joke. Sometimes I will not understand what you are saying if you are talking too abstract, but I won’t let you move on until I understand. It means that people can highly misunderstand me. If I overreact to a seemingly minor situation, it is usually because I panic, because it what I prepped in my head to expect all of a sudden it isn’t happening.
I will randomly walk off in the middle of a conversation because I have nothing more to say. I will sometimes act standoffish because I simply am too anxious to speak. I am incredibly direct because I can’t understand why you would want to be indirect and confusing. If I don’t like something, I’ll tell you.
When people tell me one thing and then do another, I freeze because I don’t understand what is going on. I have to work out from scratch what the new rules are. Because it doesn’t come naturally to me.
Change from routine is incredibly hard. It’s hard to make friends (I mean I have some incredible friends now, but that is by God’s grace, and it took a long time for me to get here) because I get angry easily. Anger is the way I express my anxiety and confusion.
Autism affects me more than I would ever like to admit. When I was diagnosed (I was 17, which is super late), I had already learned how to mask it. Hide it. To try and make my life easier. But really I was ashamed of my diagnosis. I didn’t want to be different (but one thing I have learned is that being different is a bad thing). I was scared that people would leave. I thought that my friends wouldn’t want to be friends with me anymore and while I know that that is some peoples story, it wasn’t mine. Because the behaviour that comes along with it was already there, when I got the diagnosis it was an explanation, but I didn’t overnight become autistic. I always was.
I came to uni and started to tell people, but only started really talking about how much it impacts me in the past few months. There will be good friends of mine who may read this and didn’t know until now. That is because although it is part of me, I didn’t come to terms with it for a long time, and it doesn’t make up my whole identity.
But I want to share this for the person who has just a got a diagnosis, and looks at all the statistics of employment, or someone tells you that everything now will change. I want to tell you that it is ok. That you will be okay. There is nothing wrong with you.
You are beautiful, your mind is incredible. You aren’t a case study, you are a human being made in the image of God, and your unique mind is amazing. Not everyone will understand you, but that’s okay. I know the world is confusing and loud, I know you’re scared, I am too. But I promise you, you’ll be okay. You’ll make it. Take the support if you need it, but know that the world will continue to turn.