Over the past few weeks, I have slowly been ‘coming out’ as autistic to my friends. I’ve had some mixed responses and I just need to unpack two of those a little bit…
I’ve had one ‘friend’ who has outright rejected me. She interrogated me demanding an explanation for why it is important to me to embrace my identity. She expected me to tell her things that are deeply personal. Once she heard those things, she had to confront the fact that I am not simply ‘normal but weird,’ but I am actually very different, and so she rejected me. That was an interesting experience. Even though we have been friends for years, I’m not really hurt by her rejection. I didn’t expect it from her, but I did expect that it would happen.
I say ‘I am autistic’ because it is an important part of who I am. I just want the ability to be me without being expected to be a more socially acceptable version of me.
There was another friend who said that I must have incredibly insight. I don’t. I have spent my entire life trying to figure out how people seem to be instinctively good at peopling when I am simply not. I don’t/can’t fit in easily in any social situation, and it has reached the point where I actively avoid them. I’m not antisocial. I sometimes even enjoy social interaction, but I often choose not to participate in social situations because they can be overwhelming for me. It’s not insight when you finally find people who you can relate to, people who share your challenges, frustrations, and strengths, and people who all have the same neurology. No massive insight is required to recognise that you feel more comfortable, more at ease, and less awkward.
After unpacking those two responses, I have reached a conclusion: This is really only about me – being able to be me! It’s not about anyone else.
This post has been translated into Russian. You can access the translation here.