On being unique

For decades I’ve wanted to fit in.

But, despite the numerous masks I carefully constructed, I never did.

At school I was either near the top of the class – or at the bottom. My schoolbooks show pages and pages of carefully researched and presented work alongside blank pages and incomplete work because I just wasn’t interested in the topic. I was bullied by teachers.

At work I was the perfect employee, efficient – punctual – reliable, but as a colleague I could be silent – aloof – strange. And so I was bullied.

As for college, I hated it. The noise, competitiveness, cliques, back-biting. I couldn’t understand why people who had signed up for a course (a B.Ed Hons) made no bones about criticising everything and everyone who didn’t conform to their own stereotypes. But most of all it was the hypocrisy. I used to think, does no-one else see through them?  The only time I was happy was on teaching practice. And I was bullied.

Since my ASD diagnosis in October 2018 I have allowed myself to live without my masks. It’s been my main survival technique for so long that it can be difficult not to slip into this default mode. But I’m letting myself stim more openly and take time out if I’m going into shutdown or meltdown. Six months on, it seems to be working.

Mostly I accept that I don’t need to fit in and I certainly don’t deserve to live in a false construct I’ve created for myself in order to do so.

And neither does anyone else. You are unique.