My ex-girlfriend’s best friend’s blog back in the day had that as her tagline. Admittedly I never much paid attention to that tagline and even laughed it off as somewhat funny but I have to say, as I’ve gotten older (and maybe wiser, I have no idea) I’ve come to embrace that saying more in the way I express myself.
I’ve never been one to totally fit the mold so to speak, though I did try when I was younger. I would do my best to mask my autism and act neurotypical when in the public eye. After all, neurotypical people were the proper ones and I, the autistic, was the abnormal one who needed to make myself fit in the mold, right?
Well that was the way I lived for many, many years, though as I got older it got more and more painful to do. It’s like the depressed person who tries to put on that fake smile, pretend to be fine but really feels like shit day in and day out. Eventually that feeling like shit can’t be masked anymore and when that mask breaks sometimes the consequences are catastrophic. Having clinical depression which runs comorbidly with autism spectrum disorder, I know the results of that all too well also.
When I started learning to express my true inner self, it was like a huge burden lifted off of me. I’ll never forget the time I tried on a pair of short shorts for the first time (oh how seeing women in them made me envious during the hot times, but being male I wasn’t supposed to wear them). It was so liberating and comfortable (yes, I chalk my liking of them up on account of a sensory processing issue – I briefly explained this in a previous post), not to mention I kind of liked the way I looked in them. So I permanently adopted the look and quit caring about societal standards in that way.
Once I got over that one hurdle, I started expressing myself more genuinely in other ways, allowing myself to “geek out” (term borrowed from my ex-gf) about the things that interested me and showing and engaging in those interests openly, however weird those interests might have seemed to others. I’d keep my motor tics to myself as I could, but if I had to let it out I did so (man, I can’t imagine how badly it must suck to have Tourettes).
Though most recently, entering the world of body modifications was like the real big thing in ultimately just being that freak I was born to be. As I continue to add tattoos and piercings, I find other things to change about my appearance or otherwise that more accurately reflect who I am. In addition to the ink and jewelry I’ve even added black eyeliner and such to my appearance, because quite frankly it just matches my soul (the emo side of it anyway – and I am an emo dude deep down).
Unleashing my inner self, in addition to being liberating and just easier, also had a more profound effect that I never anticipated – I actually have more friends now. I honestly imagined I’d have fewer because people would realize the freak I really am, but no. Though I did lose a few friends in the process (who thought I had gone off the deep end), I formed new friendships that were much more deep and profound and ultimately wound up with a net gain in friends. I still don’t have all that many friends, mind you, but it was an interesting observation.
So here I am, 30 years old, still autistic as ever, the only change is I don’t hide it the way I used to. If I had a choice, would I still choose to be neurotypical? Absolutely. That much has not changed. My life would have been a lot easier being neurotypical and if a “cure” were to become available today I’d still likely accept it. As liberating as it is to unleash your true inner self it’s still not easy being a freak, but if I had to be born a freak I’d much rather openly be the freak I was born to be than to try to put on a false front and conceal it. I’ll never forget how miserable that made me.