I could go on and on about superpowers and passions and things that are completely ‘ausome’ about being on the spectrum. We’re fascinating, mysterious, gifted, deficient, challenged and unique–all at once. Still, what I want to say about my own ausomeness today is not just about all the positives. My own writing in this space tends to be tilted to the positive, that’s an intentional choice to restore some sort of balance to our own ways of thinking about ourselves. I think the world tells us too often how wrong we are, how we need to adjust to fit in and seem ‘normal’. (If any of you ever come across a ‘normal’ person, I would very much like to shake their hand.)
Some days, the pressure to keep my blog posts positive or upbeat or optimistic is certainly a challenge. Then I saw this pic from Mama Be Good, for her participation in today’s Autism Positivity Flashblog (2013), and decided to jump off from here. Yes, there are days that I struggle with being positive: days that I feel the focus on my own acceptance is hollow, hard and as false as rainbow glitter farted from a flying unicorn’s backside. These are the bad days, the sad days, the days when I’ve likely taken things too far and forgotten to properly take care of myself. “Autism is not all rainbows.” I’ve heard this and similar comments from parents of autistic children, and less frequently from ASDies–usually ones who are overwhelmed and depressed.
No, autism isn’t all rainbows and glitter–there are superpowers and gifts, but they do come with some real world challenges and weaknesses. It is how the universe works. If any of you have ever met a person whose life is all rainbows and glitter–and I mean ANYONE, especially that mythical beast the ‘normal’ person–I would very much like to shake their hand! Newsflash! This means, that in this struggle to get up again, to look to the brighter side, despite challenges, we ARE just like everyone else.
No matter who you are and what your life is like, it is never easy. There are always challenges. There will always be unfairness. It will always be hard. Each of us has strengths. Each of us has weaknesses. Period. The second we start to judge one another for who has the biggest burdens, we’ve lost the point of existence and our own humanity, I think. There are always days when you think seeing the brighter side is just so much unicorn wind. None of us is alone in this.
The beauty of the challenges, no matter what they are, is that they require us to stand up one more time after falling down. Giving up is just giving over to death, even if you keep breathing. One of the most beautiful and ausome things about my ASD is that I have a unique set of gifts and a unique set of challenges to navigate–my own personal flavors of adversity and glitter (and yes, you can’t have one without the other). Perhaps the single most humanizing act is to recognize in each other our own human frailty–our own strengths and weaknesses–and to see the same in others without judgement.
We all have strengths, we all have weaknesses, what good does it do anyone to compare or somehow calculate who has the hardest life, or who is better because they have fewer weaknesses and better strengths? It’s silly. Our humanity shrinks when we see the world this way, but it can blossom if we work together. Our strengths are meant to be gifts to one another. My verbosity at the keyboard is fun (for me), and helps me process things I can’t otherwise understand, but it does me no amount of good until I put it to use for others, lending my strength to those who might be weak with words. Our differences are not there so we can learn to divide ourselves and become weaker, they are there for us to learn cooperation, compassion and the greater strength and peace of unity. Only in this way does life become better for all of us; only in this way do any of us become whole.
Wow. I didn’t set out to lay down the basics of my personal cosmology and metaphysical beliefs. Let me get back on task…
The most ausome thing about being an ASDie? Every time I get back up from those bad times and bad days, I feel like I really accomplished something. Every time I turn away from trying to compare my challenges to someone else’s I feel like I’ve found just a little more humanity in myself. No, it’s not all rainbows, but when you can manage to see the rainbows, persevere until they materialize for you one more time (despite having fallen down again), then THAT is incredibly magical. Keep chasing rainbows, my friends. Keep getting up and proving that you are exceptional as you rise the challenge of your own humanity.