Dear little me; my younger undiagnosed autistic me,
Yeah, that’s right. You still think it’s weird referring to yourself by your name. Turns out, there’s a reason for that.
There’s a reason for a LOT of the things that you don’t even realize are different from most everyone else. And yet you instinctively know you’re on the outside looking in. An alien observing the world and not really knowing how to step into it.
But boy, do you try. You know what you want, and that’s to be truly seen and recognized as you are. Along that endless search, you unknowingly lose yourself. You cling to whatever details you see in people who sound happy and “normal.” Happy and “normal” people are skinny, and easily talk to others, and belong in groups of activities and hobbies.
In this process of trial and major error, you practically kill yourself trying to find that happy everyone else finds with far less effort. You struggle. A LOT. A couple of decades feels like centuries trudging through a tar pit. Just when you feel like you’re breathing fresh air, you get swept underneath the dark waves. It will never stop feeling like an endless battle, one you’re never meant to win.
my undiagnosed autistic reality.
What does even mean, young one, to be an undiagnosed autistic person? Well, it’s the sense that you’re doing five times the work everyone else is for the same result. When people converse, it feels like they have an inside secret they’re keeping from you. You coast between high weeks of productivity and lightness, only to fall face-first into depression.
Half the things people say and do just don’t even make sense. You’re questioning everything, even if it’s unspoken. A resentment starts to consume you, although you might not call it that right away. When you’re so attuned to everything around you, you can’t help but notice how others talk and congregate and seem to connect.
If others want to date and socialize after class and pursue certain things, might that be the key? Yeah, you try that, only to feel like an impostor. You wonder how people actually see you, there must be something they aren’t saying. You figure, if you’re the best at something, then some magic will happen. Even then, trying to be the skinniest, or the smartest, or the prettiest (whatever that means) won’t ever happen.
No way to mince words: when things just seem to go wrong for no reason, that sucks. Like you can never catch a break. There’s always something to try and look forward to. High school will be better. Okay, maybe college will be better. Okay, maybe once I graduate college…
the turning point.
The minute you even suspect autism, something clicks, in a way that has never happened before. That whole “special interest” thing takes on a new topic, one that you’ll dissect with unmistakable hunger.
It turns out, you’re not alone. You aren’t the only one feeling this way. All of those random quirks you didn’t even know had a name? Other people have them, too. You’ve been suppressing much more than you realized, to the point where complete exhaustion hits you like a truck. Things start to make sense for the first time.
Looking back, now you see where the pieces fit together. Why everyone seemed to have some unspoken pact and connection. Why relationships went awry, or opportunities fell through. Times when you felt like you were barely scraping by take on a new lens. Rather than forcing yourself into a mold not shaped for your mind’s contours, you see how hard you’ve worked despite odds stacked against you.
was it worth it?
I look back at you, my younger, undiagnosed autistic self, and slip on rose-colored shades. Really, it’s the only way I can reflect without falling into despair with how rough things were. But you came out on the other side. This is your time to truly, authentically shine.
Life’s still hard, but now you know it. You can better expect the hardships and prepare for them. You can walk into a situation without compromising who you are and what you need. Some won’t understand it, but others will celebrate with you. Breaking the barrier was the first step toward living the life you deserve, that you can stamp with full approval and feel whole.
You have a lot of life to live. This time around, you set the tone. A greater purpose has risen to the surface, and despite everything still feeling challenging, you feel the sense of calling in your bones. The path continues to open and become clearer with each step, and you, young one, are coming along for the journey.
Take care, and keep the faith. -Allie
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