Those of us Baby Boomers on the spectrum have usually spent our lives trying to live up to other’s expectations. We were told very early own that we were too shy, so get over it and join the mainstream. That started us out on a life of low self-esteem until something finally kicked that falsehood to the curb.
Being outside the mainstream is pretty much how our life has gone. Out of the mainstream but trapped in a cage of other’s expectations.
Before I go any further I am talking about those of us on the Asperger’s end of the spectrum, not the whole spectrum. We manage to have a few friends, who mainly came about because of a particular circumstance. We happened to be there at the right time and place. But we were more like ships passing in the night of this neurotypical world. If we are lucky, we had a few good friends in our lives. We manage to get through high school and college and beyond by pretending to be someone else. In fact, some of us do really well at that. Our tendency to devour knowledge and to spew it out as needed ends up working in our favor. Eventually, we end up doing quite well in the business world. Some of us were fortunate enough to have someone to recognize how valuable our talents were and to accommodate our autistic needs, even if they didn’t know it by name.
If we were lucky, we ended up with a partner, and maybe even a couple of kids. Eventually, we Baby Boomers retired and then had to adjust our lives to new circumstances, but we never really considered taking off our mask of a lifetime even then. But then something happens to drag us toward the deep end of the spectrum, where it becomes a sink or swim situation. For me, that was the death of my spouse of 36 years about five months ago.
When that happens we finally realize that we have lived our lives as others expected us to. We suddenly discover that removing that mask and declaring that we will now live on our terms is a real possibility.
That is where I am right now.
My life has been turned on its ear in 2021, so why not also turn “who I am” on its ear at the same time. Instead of masking who I am, I will now start trying to get people to understand, and maybe even accept me as a person who is just different from them.
To accomplish that, I must go into the teacher mode. That’s what I am doing now. I am in a new world of having people around me 24/7 for the first time in decades, so it’s time to finally become who I am. Take off the mask and quit apologizing for being different. Teach people that diversity makes everyone’s lives a little more abundant, and definitely more interesting. Know me as a person not as a label.
It’s time to take off my lifetime mask, and to let people see who I really am.