Imagine spending your entire life, nearly 40 years of it, feeling like you don’t fit in and that you’re not exactly “normal”. You spend your life looking at the world believing it to be right and you to be wrong. But what if you find a reason for that feeling? What if you’re not wrong but just different?
That was the experience I had in 2018 a few months before my 40th birthday. I had spent 18 months waiting to meet with an autism specialist to discuss whether I was autistic or not. After a long discussion about myself from both my persepective and that of my wife’s they said I have ASD, Autism Spectrum Disorder.
I felt so happy. Odd to go to a medical place for a diagnosis of something and come away happy with a positive result. But I did because this explained everything I ever felt. Why the world was too bright, too noisy, too chaotic and generally not my kind of place most days. My mind was rushing with memories that I could now re-evaluate from this new perspective. I understood why things had happened the way they did now. Oh if only I could leap back in time and re-do things with this knowledge. It was a proper life changing experience.
In the 18 months or so since being formally diagnosed I’ve really embraced it. For decades I’ve felt uncomfortable feeling different to everyone else. Imagine how life changing it is to have a medical professional tell you that it’s all ok. It’s ok to be different and I’ve done well in my life to get where I am.
It’s not just a feeling anymore. It’s an actual prooveable difference. My brain isn’t like 99% of people’s brains. I am actually different to most people, medically speaking. On the back of my car there’s a sticker that says “Driven by something different.” A bit of marketing nonsense for sure but I liked that idea when I bought the car. That was 18 months before I was diagnosed so you can see how these little things affected me. Apple’s “Think Different” ad campaign always struck a cord with me too. It is hard to state just how big a difference this has made to my life knowing that there’s a real reason why all those little “Think Different” moments got to me.
I no longer care if I’m odd, strange, weird or anything like that. Being Autistic is what makes me me and I embrace that 100%. I do not fear it. I understand it makes life really tough some days but here I am at 41 and I’m finally happy with who I am.