At school people told me I was weird, my behaviour wasn’t normal, and I was told I needed to try and be normal to get on in life, I needed to be normal to have friends, to be happy, to have a relationship.
But this wasn’t true.
People were telling me this because they didn’t understand how I could possibly be happy being me, and that is really sad because it showed they didn’t know how to be happy being themselves either.
The idea of being like ‘normal’ people is not one that has ever appealed to me.
Why would I trade up getting so interested in fascinating things that I lose all sense of time: I learn so much more about the things that interest me than most people ever do.
Why would I chose to stop feeling the joy I feel in tiny things that I love: in repeating words that sound and feel wonderful to say, or watching lights dancing on the river. Because these things are so beautiful and cool and awesome and so many people just do not notice! Why on earth would I want to stop noticing these things?
So much of my autism is about me enjoying being me and while at school people kept telling me I couldn’t live my life without ‘fitting in’ they were so wrong. When I left school, I went in search of other people who liked being themselves and didn’t mind other people being eccentric and happy. I found these people and while it took a while to find them, they were so very worth the wait.
Now have life long friends, I have autistic friends and eccentric friends and we understand how much fun it is to sit and watch interesting vehicles together or to talk about trains for hours, or ferrets or to just sit in silence drawing or watching TV. We know it’s ok to say: ‘you’re talking a bit loud again’ when we end up accidentally shouting at each other when we get excited, or to say 'this is sarcasm' to make sure the other person knows and isn't confused. We know it’s ok to rock, to stim and to laugh at the autistic traits we share that are honestly really amusing to see in other people, because we thought we were the only ones who did these things.
And despite my school friends telling me that a ‘normal' relationship is the correct one to have, a normal relationship didn’t make me happy, so now I have a lovely crazy eccentric relationship where we can go several weeks without seeing each other and it's ok
A relationship where I can say: I don’t want to ever live in the same room as you because I find your mess stressful: and that’s just fine.
Where I can say: I’m having an alone day today, and it's absolutely fine.
And when we are together we watch films over and over and we talk for hours and hours about geeky things we both enjoy and we discuss wearing clothes that make us feel happy. Where we talk about what things we find useful when coping with stress. Where my partner knows to remind me to go for a walk when I start to get upset because I want my social skills to be on form that day and they just aren't, and where my partner knows they can cry and get a hug from me because they said one thing wrong that day and now they can't stop obsessing over it.
And my partner's not even autistic, they just know that it's ok to be themselves and it's ok to say they find some ‘normal' things difficult.