On passing… and then not.

This time of year really is the perfect time to look back on the year that was, and I do intend to do an “official” year in review post, but that will be mainly for me to collect my thoughts over the events of the past year. This post is more focused on one particular thought:

Passing

Before I stepped out of the NT box, before I started living neurodivergently, I was passing. I was passing for neurotypical.

Sometimes, I could do that quite effectively. I had built up scripts in my head to get me through the average day. Even then, I always felt like an outsider looking in. I never felt as though I could do things in the same way that seemed to be almost instinctual for everyone else around me.

Every bit of social interaction required some level of conscious effort on my part, and following any interaction with another person, I would go through an analysis stage:

  • Did I speak too loudly or too softly?
  • Did I stay on relevant topics?
  • Did I talk for too long?
  • Did I talk enough?
  • Did I do anything strange?
  • Did I move too much?

And that’s when I was passing quite effectively. At other times, I simply couldn’t pass. I was too weird, too loud, too quiet, or too inappropriate. Musings of an Aspie suggests that we may not be as successful at passing as we think we are.

I think that’s quite possibly true. I think even when I was living in the NT box, I wasn’t doing it successfully. I certainly didn’t feel like I was doing it successfully. I didn’t feel like I fit in anywhere. Always an outsider looking in.

This year, I stepped out of that NT box. I started living authentically as an autistic person, and slowly I have transitioned to living as an Autistic person (yes, the capital letter does make a difference).

I feel free. I don’t feel the pressure to fit in anymore. I have found my tribe, and I have people around me that understand me without me having to be so completely conscious of what I’m saying, how I’m saying it, or how I’m acting. I don’t need to pass anymore, so I don’t.

I feel free to be me.

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