Hiding vs showing
A slightly late follow on from my last post... I gave 'Why didn't you tell me' a share through my social media for the year anniversary since I wrote it and made me think: people knowing who I am, is this an actual benefit or does this ultimately cause me more trouble than it is worth? Do I need to live a lie to live the life where I can do what my non-judged, non-stigmatised peers without the same attitudinal barriers? Have I got the energy to turn this around and to push for the space that ought to be equitable in terms of access and respect? How equitable are spaces in reality?
I ask these questions not to say that I am hard done by, because in all reality I am quite privileged in a manner that not all autistic people are in terms of my social network around me of parents and sister, friends and colleagues (academic and otherwise). I pose these questions rather to ask how we hold ourselves responsible, if at all, for the change that is so desperately needed. The change in terms of challenging attitudes and beliefs which perpetuate discrimination and difficulty: including discrimination that we do not see to be obvious or shocking to us; that which I believe in years to come we will be ashamed that we did not stand up to or stay something about. Through being open, you move from living a lie to actively having to fight for what others take for granted: understanding, respect, freedom of ideas, free from constraints of associated stereotypy and imagery tainting your identity, dignity... the list can go on... Have a reflect a minute.
I am aware I sit at a injunction where I do not look "autistic" nor "disabled", therefore I might not seen to be truly representative nor 'really suffering' as I am 'so capable'. Given autism is such an internal thing, I very much know I am autistic and very much am aware of struggle, even if it is not externally obvious. This complete discord on what appears and what actually is sets the precedence for misunderstanding and having to fit into a lie just to get along, just to survive. Showing and telling who I actually am is dangerous - although I am no longer lying to myself and feel freer - it also means that I am consistently challenging people through my mere being and presence and my acceptance of who I am, along with my own self-determination, plans and goals.
Hiding in this sense is not cowardice; it is survival much of the time - I need to make that clear. It is exhausting and is not an easy option.
So why would I not tell someone now? Fear of judgement and fear of being compartmentalised by assumptions. For someone who hates being the centre of attention, this situation places me right into the centre of the storm and into the spotlight. It's scary in all honesty. But through accepting I am who I am and trying to be someone else has broken me and scarred me so much in the past, I know that this is the only option.