I’ve been working really hard on liking myself. This isn’t always easy, and I regularly judge myself by typical societal standards, which I do not at all live up to (I’m in my 30’s and I don’t have a job! What’s WRONG with me?! ALL THE THINGS must be wrong!). However, I am trying, because nothing good comes out of hating myself and lots of good comes out of loving myself. There are many awesome things about me that other people can see! I should listen to them!
However, there are some things about me that are just less than ideal. Truths that will always be there that I have mostly come to terms with, but I sometimes struggle with.
To put it simply, I’m immature. Of course, all by itself that doesn’t say much, and as a universal it isn’t even accurate. Ok, maybe I should break it down a little more.
I was in middle school when people started thinking that there was something sufficiently wrong with me that I needed official help (um. ok, that’s not true either. my mom noticed way earlier than that. However, it was in middle school that the school got involved). Basically, a bunch of my teachers got together and said “something is the matter with Andraya.” I was put through a bunch of tests and then the testers and teachers and school counselors and who knows who else all got together to talk about it. Their conclusion was that I am very smart, but my social and emotional development was distinctly behind. The label they picked for me was “emotionally disturbed” and that’s what stuck with me for a long time, until the Asperger’s explanation happened.
Thing is, when children are behind in some way, it seems like the thinking is to get them “caught up” and then everything is cool. The kid just needs to put in extra effort for a while until they’re on par with everyone else.
Only that’s not how it works. Or, well, it’s not always how it works. Maybe it works that way sometimes. The point is, that’s not how it works with developmental delays. So often, developmental delays are considered a childhood thing. I even see autism being referred to as a “childhood epidemic,” as though it’s something that kids “catch” and with proper treatment, get over by the time they’re adults.
Years of work, and I’m still emotionally and socially behind my peers. Not in a way that shows to the average person on the street, but my oddness is definitely visible to those who get to know me.
I will be behind for the rest of my life. Unless something amazing happens that more or less changes the whole world, this will always be with me. I will never, ever, “catch up.” I will have to work harder than most people in order to make less progress (specifically, in emotional and social matters). The is just the way it is.
There will also always be people who will see the fact that I am behind, and think of it as a personal, moral failure. There will always be people who think that I just need to try harder. Again, unless the world (or at least my country) changes in a huge way, this will always be true. Until I die.
Ok, it isn’t actually that dire. Or that straightforward. Yes, I am behind my age group, but not really in a linear way. And getting diagnosed has helped a whole awful lot with people viewing my differences as moral failings. I mean, growing up that’s just all there was. Pretty much everyone thought that, or maybe blamed it on my parents. Sometimes people would be really aggressive about it too, treating me like I was simply a bad person or something. I’ve had some bad experiences.
But now I know it’s Asperger’s, and the autism spectrum is slowly becoming better known. Yeah, there are still lots of problems in the world when it comes to the autism spectrum and the way people approach it as thing that happens to children or a disease that can be cured, but still. There are many individuals out there who are, or who try to be, understanding. Who either know or are willing to learn about what that means. Who realize that it isn’t personal failing, it’s neurological differences that I cannot change.
Still, I’m behind. I always will be. Sometimes that hits me kind of hard and it isn’t easy to deal with. Sometimes, even with as much as I work on pride in who I am, and all the things I love about myself and all my awesome, I wish that I were different. Or rather, I wish that I weren’t different. Even though it means I wouldn’t even be me anymore.