📆 January 31, 2023 | ⏱️ 3 minute read | 🏷️ autism

I'm Different, but Not in a Cool Way

I’m different, but not in the cool, quirky, interesting, and relatable way. I’m different in ways that make everyone around me uncomfortable if I’m not putting all my energy into camouflaging it.

I’m different in ways that make me lonely. I’m surrounded by people who are there when things are going well in my life, but disappear the moment they’re not. As long as I’m conforming to their standards of normal, they stick around. But the moment I start stimming or moving my body in a non-socially conforming way or appreciating something others deem trivial or laughing at something they don’t see the humor in, they suddenly vanish.

I can stand right in front of someone and tell them point blank that I’m autistic, have special needs, and need extra support sometimes and they just downplay it. “No Nick. You’re basically normal. You don’t need support.” The truth is you don’t want to support me because my differences make you uncomfortable and you won’t admit it. You don’t want to be seen with the weird (autistic) guy.

By denying my reality, you deny that I need extra support. By denying that I need extra support, you absolve yourself of any responsibility as a friend of providing support. Instead of helping me get to a quiet place when I’m overstimulated, you just pretend nothing’s happening. Instead of explaining to others that I’m autistic so that I catch a small break from constantly explaining myself, you lie about the true cause of my behavior and blame me for it. Every single time I do something socially unacceptable, you pretend you don’t even know me.

If my autistic traits make you uncomfortable, just say you don’t want to be around me because I embarrass you. But don’t tell me to be normal, that there’s something wrong with me, or that I need to change.

In the past, I kept toxic relationships just so I could have friends. But I’ve matured since then and I’d rather be alone than with someone who won’t acknowledge my reality. If you can’t accept that I’m autistic, let’s not waste each others’ time.

The majority of people reject me for being different in the wrong ways. Others think they can use and manipulate me for their own personal gain because I’m too autistic to realize I’m being taken advantage of. But there are a few kind souls out there who aren’t afraid of me or embarrassed to be around me just because I’m different.

If you’re one of those people, you’re worth more to me than your weight in gold and the world could use more people like you.