UNMASKED: Snippets & notes from a lifetime collection of journals (pre-diagnosis).
Advocating for autistic acceptance.
June 5, 1994
… I play [all the games of pretend] quite well. I can survive rather happily in my own world, though, and for intentions and purposed, plan on staying there. I am learning – to experience life and put myself as priority.
… I am physically and emotionally prepared. On important lesson I studied hard for and learned [over my freshman year] is the following: how to interact with people socially, to understand their perceptions, even though I may not choose to apply it to myself, experiences that will help me survive in the future … just as important as the practicing.
Although I believe in true love and kindness, I have also become more cynical and isolated in terms of the population as a whole … I am protected from those may try to use and exploit me. I am not a hard soul, though. Quite the opposite! How can a hard soul allow the emotions and love of the emotions in? I suppose they, also, have their ways.
Unmasking completely is a privilege many of us don’t have. I am brown, queer, AFAB, multiply disabled, autistic. For me, learning how to mask with intention (and as sparingly as possible) somewhat protects me from both the outside world and burnout. I am more empowered knowing what it is and why I do have to do it to survive. When it was subconscious, it felt more frantic and perilous. I wish we lived in a world where we didn’t have to mask at all. Please don’t feel bad if you have to mask to survive, fellow #neurokin. I want you to survive. ❤️
(Subconscious) Masking 101.
1). I thought everyone was playing the “games of pretend” but I was the only one who preferred my own little world.
2). I didn’t not learn to prioritize myself. I learned to prioritize everyone else’s comfort and convenience.
3). I did learn how to survive by masking. Both practicing (aka, scripting) and applying it taught me the skills I needed to get by – often unsuccessfully in the NT scale but I was still alive, which was how I measured (and still measure) success.
4). All the hard work I put in to understand NT perspectives. Autistic (and other neurodivergent) (and other disabled) (and other marginalized) communities have to do this to survive.
5). Despite my optimism, I was not protected from people who (ab)used and exploited me. Not for decades and still not – we autistics are a vulnerable population.
6). I am still pragmatic (what I was told was cynical but … no) and still not a hard soul. Any other autistic people consider themselves pragmatic dreamers?