I'm Tired of Pretending


I’m tired. I’m tired of faking, pretending, masking and being in pain. I’m tired of not being my truest self for the sake of being my worldliest self.

I’m tired of sitting on my hands, planting my feet on the ground and letting all the energy build up. I’m tired of telling myself, “You can do it. Just a couple more hours.” I’m tired of coming home just to rock, spin and flap until late into the night to settle down from the day. I’m tired of exploding at the end of a busy couple days and shutting myself in the bathroom with my weighted blanket, the lights off and fan on to make it go away.

That’s what my life has been the past several months — spending the whole day trying to look like I’m looking at people’s faces only for the back of my eyes to be blank. Forcing myself to be engaging, to spit the words out, to look like I’ve got it all together. Second-guessing everything I say and do to make sure it is “neurotypical” enough. Qualifying statements not to go all the way to what I actually think, not to give my truth. To act like I’m not autistic. No more. I’m tired.

A few weeks ago, one of my mentors and one of the greatest human beings on the earth told me if she didn’t know better, she wouldn’t guess I was autistic. At the time, I was relieved. I was so proud of myself. It was working. I was “normal.” It was worth it. But nothing is worth locking my truest self away. Nothing provides the same reprieve that being the best version of me provides. It isn’t about being the best “normal” version or the best friendly person. It’s just about being the best me.

For me, that means flapping my hands. It means listening intently and listening best when I’m not looking at you. It means rocking in my chair while I work and humming while I concentrate. It means chewing on things — ice, fidgets, straws, anything but gum.

Not being my true self has had drastic consequences. And yeah, acting neurotypical may work for a while, but that’s not how I believe God made me. That’s not how my brain works. No matter how your brain works, you should be free to be yourself. I believe God made me this way and made my brain this way. I am gifted. My brain can see numbers and patterns. My brain struggles with sarcasm, sensory input and social interactions. My brain struggles in certain areas and excels in others, just like the rest of humanity. It just happens that autistics tend to struggle in areas neurotypicals often find easier.

There are definitely days when I wish I didn’t have autism, when I wish I was “normal,” whatever that is. But then I knock out a season’s worth of stats in a couple hours to look for trends and ways to make our team better, and I remember I am who I am. I am who I believe God made me, perfectly me.

So if my hands are flappy, just let me be. Nothing has changed.

I’m tired of being tired. It’s time to embrace me.

Erin posing with someone in front of a photo of the Space Needle

Follow this journey on Erinmmckinney.com.

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