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Who Would I Be Without Autism?

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I was diagnosed with autism at the age of 4. I never understood why I was different as a little girl, but I knew I was different because I could not explain my emotions or thoughts rationally. I often wonder: without autism, would I had made friends more easily? Would I cry less and not focus on wanting to be accepted? A lot of times I still struggle with this, even though it is not as bad as it used to be.

Now, as an adult, I do not have the best time dating and struggle often. I cared so much about being accepted that I hid my true identity of being a lesbian. I recently came out in March 2020 but it is still a bit of a struggle to open up to others out of fear of rejection — not based on my gender preferences but because of my autism. I try to hide my feelings so much, but when I do, I end up being in so much anger that it is not good to hide it. I do not like to tell my friends my problems because I do not want to scare people away or have them used against me later on.

I have always wondered what my life would look like without autism. Would I be able to date more easily? Would I pick up signals more easily? Would I rationalize better with my emotions? Would I be able to handle some of the simple tasks that most “normal” people can do? There are many thoughts like this in my head on the daily.

It sucks because I struggle with depression and anxiety, which are common in the autism population. But in many ways, I’m glad I am autistic because it makes me very empathetic towards people, honest, too blunt sometimes, hardworking, patient etc. I could go on to name some other great traits, but most of all, I love that I get to help others on this journey. I work in the special education field and teach neurodiverse kids to overcome their struggles and fears. I want them to know they’re not alone.

Getty image by Val_Iva.

Originally published: February 23, 2021
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