Several years ago–almost 10, now that I think about it–I got some new glasses. They were my first pair of plastic frames in a long, long time. They were the classic nerd style of my teen years. Think Spaz in the film Meatballs but without the tape. Shortly after getting them, I remember asking my son, “Do these glasses make me look like a nerd?” He looked at me for a second and said, “Kinda. But that’s okay. You are a nerd.” That shook me because, until fairly recently, being a nerd was not a good thing. Eventually, I came around and realized that it was true: I am a nerd. Weird, even. I used to see that as a bad thing, something to be ashamed of, even hidden. But, acknowledging, and even embracing, The Weird™–aka accepting my neurodivergence–has made a huge difference in my life. Without a doubt, it’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
My Weirdness Is Intrinsic.
Like my sexuality or personality, my weirdness is part and parcel of who I am. It kind of has to be, you know? Being weird is, apparently, in my genes (ADHD and ASD both have a genetic component) so it makes sense. While it makes its way into almost everything I do, I still feel like I have to make allowances for others. For example, I told a reading group I’m a part of that recommendations are hard for me because most people aren’t ready for the “utterly weird, deep geek that is my reading list.” Which kind of sucks, because I love talking about books (another aspect of my weirdness) and it’s hard to talk about a book with someone who hasn’t read it.
It’s Not Really a Problem
I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating: my weirdness doesn’t really cause me problems. I haven’t been shy about describing my troubles with Richard, Imposter Syndrome, or even Executive Dysfunction. But those things can be dealt with through coping skills, therapy, and a good support system. Having to live in a world where my weirdness is seen as some kind of fucked up aberration instead of different is a another story. It’s one that has fed my RSD and Imposter Syndrome, causing me to internalize the shitty messages society throws out willy fucking nilly about anything it deems a deviation from “normal”. Like “normal” is even a fucking thing.
Leaning Into the Weird
Of course, that shit got better after I began working on accepting my neurodivergence. Before that, however, it was bad. I mean really fucking bad. I used to spend almost every waking goddamn moment thinking about every goddamn thing I did, all in an effort to be goddamn “normal”. And, doing so with the nagging suspicion that I was not pulling it off. It wasn’t like a running dialogue in my head, telling me that I was being weird, though. It was more like cognitive dissonance. Only, instead of the fucked up feeling you have while saying some bullshit about how children must be protected while simultaneously trying to rationalize ownership of an AR-15, it was from pretending to be normal when I was so not normal.
A Badge of Honor
It’s taken me a while to get to this point, but these days, I wear my weirdness like a badge of honor. I do that because it allows me to flagrantly and unabashedly be the real me. The one who knows he’s weird and doesn’t give a fuck. It also keeps me from falling into the worst parts of the neurotypical world. By “worst parts”, I mean the refusal to accept that people might be even slightly fucking different, the demand for conformity at any cost, and the utter goddamn cluelessness that neurodivergent folks might have a rough time in this dystopian hellscape that NTs think is some kind of fucking paradise. I mean, if it’s so wonderful, why am I always so goddamn exhausted?
Accepting My Neurodivergence Wasn’t Nearly As Hard As I expected
In fact, it’s been a massive relief. Even when I have to mask–i.e. pretend to be fucking “normal”–it’s still better than the way it used to be. The pressure of keeping my weirdness hidden was so goddamn oppressive that it’s a wonder I could function. Well, sort of function. I mean, I got shit done but it was never pretty. But, now? Okay, it’s still not pretty but I’m not dealing with a ton of bullshit on a daily basis, which makes things sooo much goddamn easier. Like, you wouldn’t believe how much easier. And, while I know this post doesn’t sound like it, I’m happy. Or at least as happy as anyone can be with all the fucked up shit going on in the world right now. Like I said at the beginning of this piece, accepting The Weird™ is one of the best fucking decisions I’ve ever made. I’m not going back for anything in the world.