Self-development + Autistic = Tricky

I was diagnosed as autistic about 18 months ago, aged 35. I had realised that I was probably autistic only about 2 or 3 years prior to this and didn’t want to fully accept it as fact until I had it confirmed by a professional. Not because I was ashamed by the way, but because I never took my own word for anything and always need someone else to validate my thoughts, yes, my self-esteem was really that low.

I thought the diagnosis would change my world immediately. I thought when this became official everything would magically become clear and make sense and I would suddenly be happy to be ‘me’. The reality was, nothing, what so ever, changed as a result of this diagnosis being made official. I was so confused, why didn’t this make it all ok and lead me to a place where I was happy to just be myself?

Well the truth of the matter is, making self-improvements of any kind requires time, effort, dedication and a real will to make it happen – not a piece of paper. If something huge happens in your life, you’re still the same damaged and broken person underneath the temporary joy and this person will keep on resurfacing until really work is put in to make changes.

At first, I didn’t like this and felt a little hard done to. I almost thought I had something to pass my issues off onto as if they weren’t my responsibility, I had something else to blame. But over time, as I have worked on myself, started tackling anxiety and lack of self esteem and confidence, I have begin to see that, even though it isn’t my fault that I’m autistic, it is still my responsibility. I have the ability to respond to the hand I’ve been given. Yes, certain things in my life may be more difficult than they are for the average person, but it is my responsibility to decide on the kind of life I want, the kind of person I want to be, and make it happen. No matter what challenges present themselves.

Where my current confusion lies is, how do I know what trait are ones I can change and which I need to accept as part of who I am as an autistic person. I am against therapies such as ABA which act as a way to alter a person’s personality and change who the fundamentally are to suit those around them, and be moulded into the person people think they should be, this is abuse. So, I do not want to cause myself distress and force change within myself that could damage my mental health. I have spent my entire life living as someone else in an attempt to fit in and live a ‘normal’ life. This is exactly what I am trying to stop doing, not force myself to do once again. I’m a little stuck here and this is going to take a little time to figure out.

What I will say though is that I’m making huge strides forward in finding out who I really am and learning to be that person, truly and authentically. It’s taking a lot of work in making shifts in mindset, being kinder to myself and building self-belief. But in doing this I have begun to discover my true purpose, and that is to help others make the same journey from not knowing who they are, to finding this out and then taking the necessary steps to create that vision. I’m doing it so I’m sure many others can too. This does not only apply to autistic people by the way, there are many people who feel stuck for whatever reason, who know there is more to life for them. I am someone who can help them access it.

So, in conclusion, this is absolutely a lifelong journey. Self-improvement and development never stops. I have made huge strides but still get stuck at certain points and this is true for anyone and absolutely normal. There is no end to this journey so we may as well start enjoying the ride instead of waiting for the destination to start the enjoyment.

Thanks for reading.

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