One thing I’ve noticed since I started writing about being neurodivergent in a neurotypical world is how easy it is to fall into angry, ranty posts. In the last couple of months, I’ve laid into neurotypicals for the way they don’t understand that we’re just fucking different, their extra-ness, the awfulness of ABA (therapy developed by neurotypicals), and more. This shit makes me sound like I’m super pissed off all the goddamn time, but I’m not. I mean, I’m pissed off a lot of the fucking time. But not all the time. I think it kind of goes with the territory (of being neurodivergent). The thing is, I’m happier now than I can ever remember. And, in large part, that’s due to me building a neurodivergent life. Getting here hasn’t been easy. I mean, it took me the better part of 60 years to arrive. Today, I thought I’d share a little of that journey with you.
It’s a Privilege
I really should start this with a nod to the obvious. These days, I’m doing better at life than I ever thought possible. And, some of it’s due to the privilege afforded me as a white man of a certain age. Does that make me uncomfortable? Yes. But I’m also part of a marginalized group which should even things out. If you’re wondering how privilege works, author John Scalzi–self-proclaimed “white guy who likes women”–has a great description. He says it’s like playing a video game on the lowest difficulty setting there is. Of course, there’s also something called “intersectionality” that applies. Basically, as privilege is affected by multiple things, you can be advantaged by one thing and disadvantaged by another. Sort of like me being a straight white man (advantage) but also neurodivergent (disadvantage). If you think this shit is complicated, you’re right.
A Neurodivergent Life?
Okay, you’re probably wondering, “What the fuck is a neurodivergent life?” This, it turns out, is a really good question because even I wasn’t sure what the fuck it was until I started working on this post. The best answer I’ve been able to come up with–it’s a work in progress, okay?–is a neurodivergent life is one that dovetails your particular brand of weirdness with all the bizarre everyday shit you have to deal with. For example, I try to find ways to use hyperfocus/fixation as a tool to get shit done. The two can work together and allow me to stay interested and on task long enough to complete whatever crap needs to be taken care of.
The Work Thing
In a lot of ways, a job has been the bane of my neurodivegent existence. I have to be in a specific goddamn place at a specific goddamn time (something I’m not that good at). And, I often have to deal with dumbass supervisors who make me do things in ways that make no fucking sense. Worst of all, I have to deal with other people. And, my sucky record at being on time utterly fucking pales in comparison with the way I interact with coworkers. As a rule, it’s not pretty. To be fair, though, it’s not all bad. It’s just mostly bad.
Solutions Involving Soft Pants
So, what to do about this? Well, if you’re like me and not the most social person in the world, you might try to set things up where you don’t have to engage with people so much. Unfortunately I’m still working on that one (i.e. building up/monetizing this blog). Since that’s not possible right now, I’ve found a job that allows me some time to recharge my batteries. To deal with dumbass supervisors, I’ve found a job that doesn’t have any and allows me to use my initiative and engages my creative side. As for the “being on time” shit, working from home helps a lot. Like I said, I’m working on this. In large part because I really want to wear soft pants (aka joggers) all goddamn day.
Drawbacks (Yes, There Are Drawbacks)
So yeah, this sounds fucking great but I have to say there are some caveats. Really, it’s not been easy for me to get here because neurotypicals aren’t nearly as flexible as they think they are. If you doubt me on this, just look at all the companies trying to force workers back into the office. It doesn’t matter that these folks are happier due to having a better work/life balance, on-site work is the way we’ve always done things so it’s the way we have to keep doing things. It’s stupid as fuck, but whoever said work was anything but. Stupid as fuck, I mean.
Lean into the weird
As much as neurotypical society wishes I could turn off my weirdness, that’s not happening. Believe me, I’ve tried. Oh god, how I’ve tried. But, it’s a part of me. Like, “in my genetic fucking makeup” part of me. No matter how hard I try to be “normal” or even hide my weirdness, it doesn’t work. I know this because the NTs around me say so. Sometimes, it’s veiled. Like, some side eye or a hesitant “Um, okay” in response to something I said/did. Other times, it’s fucking blunt. As in, “Why are you so goddamn weird?” Basically, hiding it fucking sucked. Like, on a cosmic level. Letting that shit go and leaning into my weirdness was one of the most freeing things I’ve ever done. Bottom line? It’s not like you can stop being odd, so just say “fuck it” and let your freak flag fly.
Get to Know Yourself
Another thing that’s helped in building this neurodivergent life: knowing and understanding myself more than I did in the past. Some of it’s due to finding out why my goddamn brain is so weird. Understanding how my weirdness works has been huge. It’s helped me recognize that this world isn’t built for brains like mine, it’s built for neurotypical ones. Acknowledging this reality has helped me deal with it. It’s also helped me understand my needs and know my limits. Now, it’s harder for anyone push me too far. Getting a diagnosis was key to all this. I get it if you don’t want to, though. It’s kind of a double-edged sword. I mean, once your weirdness is out there, it can be used to fuck with you. But it also opens up doors to accommodations and other help. And, that’s kind of a big deal.
A Neurodivergent Life
In a post from last December titled, Things Are Good and I Feel Bad About It, I said I was still figuring out the kind of life I wanted to live. And, I still am, really. I don’t think that process will ever be completely finished. At least, I hope it isn’t. Otherwise, I’d be stagnated and that’s not a good thing. But, I am finding ways to make life work for me instead of against me. And it’s making all the fucking difference in the world.