UNMASKED: Snippets & notes from a lifetime collection of journals  (pre-diagnosis).
Advocating for autistic acceptance.




June 13, 1994,


Contemplating my previous entries, envisioning the drama of my life, I recognize how much I love myself. Not in an egotistical manner – no, in a peaceful, gentle one. Either I didn’t realize how profound this love was or (gulp!) didn’t feel it until this grand moment of epiphany – doesn’t matter.


I love my strength, my independence, my vulnerability, the wild, passionate streak that courses through me. Regardless of my melodrama, I do what I please, face the results with strong back, and travel my own road – sometimes with a hitchhiker, but always alone.


Although I admire people who are committed and compromising, I also love my ability to live solitarily, happily.


Kalpita Pathak
Age 18


In the 80s, my parents gave me a t-shirt covered in penguins, all of them alike except for the “Rugged Individualist” who was slightly off-center and dancing in a Hawaiian/Aloha shirt (none of us realized the phrase “Rugged Individualist” had a socio-political history, me because I was a kid, my parents because they were relatively new immigrants. 😂 They meant it in the most complimentary and celebratory way. ❤️) Any other rugged individualist autistic humans or penguins out there? 🐧🐧🐧


If I hadn’t told (tried to convince) myself how lovable and wonderful I was, nobody would ever have spoken those words to me. I may not always believe them but am glad I occasionally did (or desperately wanted to) and said as much.


“(Melo)drama” is really the accumulation of misunderstandings and miscommunications I had with friends, classmates, teachers, administration, etc. The conflicts that regularly arose from that. The pain and heartache of constant and confusing rejection. The deep feelings of self-loathing.


Society tells us that NT is best. That NT people know how to compromise. What society doesn’t acknowledge is how much autistic people compromise every single day just to survive. Everything we do is a compromise because our way of experiencing the world is ignored and/or negated by society, from sensory overload to literal language to special interests and everything in between.