Do I wish I wasn’t autistic?
At different times in my life, I would have answered that question differently.
In 2016, when I was facing entering the workplace and seemingly unable to do so, I would have said yes. I didn’t know at the time I was autistic, but I would have given anything to ‘be normal’ and be able to do everything everyone else could. I saw my future as being alone and jobless.
In 2021, I sit writing this having spent the day working for an inclusive company, and my evening with my loving partner. I am neither alone, nor jobless.
My point is in both situations I am still autistic. That has never changed. Being autistic is an inherent part of who I am. What changed was my circumstance and environment.
I wouldn’t want to change who I am and being autistic is who I am. But, in 2016 I did believe it would present impossible barriers that I would not be able to overcome. I did not foresee companies being accommodating of my different needs. I certainly didn’t foresee meeting my incredible partner, who makes it clear every day she loves me for who I am.
I wouldn’t change who I am. But sometimes the world makes autistic people feel like we are broken. Like we should change. If I had an employer that didn’t understand and instead put pressure on me to communicate, I’d likely still be in the 2016 state of wanting not to be autistic. If I was in a relationship where I was under pressure to fit in and do everything like everyone else, I would likely not want to be autistic.
Autistic pride comes from within. I am proud to be who I am. Autistic acceptance comes from autistic awareness in society. Does society accept me for who I am? For each individual autistic person this could have a completely different response. I am very aware that there is privilege involved in my circumstance. I have privilege in being white and autistic; I know the black autistic community faces many hurdles I do not. I have privilege being in a country and position to access an education and workplace system bound by the equality act. While this doesn’t rule out prejudice and mistreatment it does weigh in my favour.
And yes, I shouldn’t have ever needed society to accept me to accept myself. But the truth is to live in a world that is constantly telling you, you lack something, or you aren’t enough – it makes it damn hard to be happy with who you are.
‘Do I wish I wasn’t autistic?’, is a loaded question. It is one that fluctuates over time. Right now, in an environment where I am encouraged to be myself, I would say no, I do not wish I wasn’t autistic.
It doesn’t really come down to whether I wish I wasn’t autistic. It comes down to wishing I was something other than I am. And ultimately that depends how accepted we feel to be our authentic selves.
Nobody should hate who they are. Autism is an integral part of autistic people that we cannot change. We can’t stop having sensory overload – so create an environment for us where we don’t. We can’t understand subjective communication – so talk clearly to us. Create a world for autistic people where we can happily be ourselves.
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