So I know a lot of autistics who are really proud to be autistic and I think that's great and I wish I could be like that but I just don't know how. I hate all my autistic traits. I hate that I'm bad at conversation, I hate that I take everything people say seriously, I hate that I never know the right thing to say. I talk about my special interests, which no one cares about, too much. I have barely any friends. Everyone I meet thinks I'm weird. I don't know what to do anymore.
I’m gonna let you in on a secret. Even I feel this way sometimes. There’s so many things I really kinda hate about being autistic, especially things like my poor concentration, audio processing issues, needing to be given instructions 2, 3, 4, 5 times before I even begin to be able to remember them. Slow reaction times, poor decision making, sensory integration issues. Having absolutely no idea how to help the people I care about when they need me. I could go on and on.
Now, the thing is, though, that even if I didn’t have any of these issues, even if I wasn’t autistic, I’d still find things to hate about myself. Maybe ‘cause I have depression, maybe ‘cause it’s ingrained in people from a very young age that you have to hate yourself otherwise you’ll never improve, or you’re too full of yourself, or you haven’t done anything to deserve to not hate yourself. And these things are ingrained in neurodivergent kids tenfold. That’s why radical self-love is so important to so many of us.
I can guarantee that every single autistic person, even those of us who are super proud of being autistic, has something they hate about themselves, that they wish they could change or get rid of. That’s the human experience. You could take away every single thing you hate about yourself, and all that would happen is you’d find something else to hate.
It sounds super pessimistic, I know. But you are what you are. You can’t change it. You’re stuck with it, no take-backs. What you can change is how accepting you are of yourself. How much you care about other’s perceptions of you versus how much you care about your own perceptions of yourself. What those perceptions of yourself are. That’s something you can change. But you’ve gotta want to.
Brother Cat’s right. Even though we’ll sometimes be proud of who we are, we also go through a lot of self-doubt. I’ve dealt with this more than I’d like in the past three years of being unemployed and feeling like either no one understands me or no one wants to hire autistic people like me. I’ve dealt with it all my life in all the bullying and other crap people have thrown at me all my life (even before I knew I was autistic). It sucks. But remember–it’s not your fault you’re autistic. It makes life incredibly difficult, yes, but that’s why you have to keep persisting.
I know this sounds cheesy and trite, but find those good things about yourself. Find the ways that being autistic can benefit you and the people around you, like (for example) thinking outside the box or catching details that others may have missed and making everyone’s lives that much better as a result. That’s what I do, at least.
- Auntie Cat