…I am not just a nitwit! Just because I’m autistic; why don’t I fit in?
OK, in all seriousness I have a huge soft spot for the old Christmas classics. I don’t have a religious bone in my body but the old classics like Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (as told by Burl Ives) have a special place in my heart, and Rudolph especially so because I can so relate to the poor red-nosed reindeer. As I sit here watching it on TV tonight, it again serves as an empathetic response of sorts but I so feel for him and for dentist-wannabe Hermie the Elf because I don’t really fit in.
OK; so yes, I’m autistic. I have my oddities. I sometimes flap my hands involuntarily. I have strange obsessions. I have 5 tattoos and want more and want piercings now. I wear shorts that would make Daisy Duke blush but I’m a dude (I discussed this particular affinity in a previous blog entry). I’m totally a misfit in every sense of the word.
Sure, I don’t fit in. Alas, the song continues “who decides the test of what is really best?” I have my shortcomings. No question about that. Alas, it does beg the question, “what’s the matter with misfits?” As the tale suggests, poor Rudolph with his blinkin’ beacon of a nose was the last hope of Santa powering through the storm and re-homing the misfit toys and Hermie wound up the only dentist in the North Pole. Though not fitting the mold as it were, they all found a place and were able to eventually be who/what they wanted.
Sure, this is a fictional story, but I think it has real-life implications. Who really needs to change? Is it those who don’t fit the mold who must try to artificially make themselves fit the mold or is it on everyone else to change to become more accepting?
Well, the moral of the story is that it’s up to society to change, not us. Those of us on the autism spectrum (or a number of other “neurodivergent” individuals – thanks to Neurodivergent Rebel for introducing me to the term) can’t change who we are, just as Rudolph couldn’t change his nose despite trying to hide it or Hermie trying to hide his distaste for his role. We are who we are, and if society can’t accept us as such, that’s on them.
Yes, it’s something I’ve had to learn the hard way over the years (despite trying to change myself). The years of self-hate, resentment, etc. from societal conditioning almost tore me apart. I’m glad I’m older and wiser now because I remember what a dark place that is and quite frankly I never want to return.
Now, to convince those around me there’s nothing really wrong with me. It’s an uphill battle but a worthwhile battle indeed. Maybe, just maybe, someday we will see that societal shift. If the citizens of Christmas Town could eventually learn to accept Rudolph, Hermie and even the Abominable Snow Monster, surely real world society can learn to accept us neurodivergent individuals.