In coming months, I will be working to get involved with the more “behind the scenes” planning of Hastings. I don’t know if I will be accepted in any of the things I’m exploring. This year I was just winging it, going balls to the walls in my chaotic, terrified way. I learned a lot, failed a lot, and still do not feel like we are really a part of the community – and I took a heavy financial hit from all that I was doing.
I have worked in collaboration with city leadership everywhere I have lived, but never fully stepped into that world. It’s scary, but it also feels like the only logical step forward. I will be writing a mission statement for MYSELF, to keep me focused and grounded on what my goals are, and why. I have no idea how money will sort itself out – it’s hard to engage in community when you can’t afford basic living expenses, much less extras.
This year, in the midst of thrusting myself face first into community engagement, I realized that I am very obviously autistic. It has been completely devastating to my sense of identity, and really amplified the struggles I’ve always had with any sense of belonging, or fitting in the world.
I’m weird, and it shows – and while I’ve been able to tell myself for years that I am just quirky, and embrace it, this realization came with the knowledge that all of my “quirk” is symptomatic/diagnostic, and it forced me to get honest about the fact that all my “quirk” makes existing, connecting, and functioning in this world really, really difficult. Also owning the fact that all of the fighting myself I’ve done – to be different, to be normal, to do better – is fighting my inherent nature, – and it also doesn’t mean I won’t keep working to change those things. Because in this most of all, I am who I am – I am committed to improvement and growth. Finding a space between acceptance and growth, where “self-improvement” is an act of self-love, and not an act of self-deprecation, is my goal going forward.
The worst part has been realizing that the things I like most about myself, and have nurtured, are also seen as diagnostic, as negatives/disruptive within society. I’ve felt less secure in who I am, less at ease in my skin, and in the world. Since all of my events wrapped up at the end of summer, I’ve taken a lot of time to process and recover, and I have been feeling a lot better in all areas, but finances make it hard to step back into the world. I can’t, however, let it stop me completely from moving forward, even if I have no idea how it will all shake out. I think for this one, it’s just a matter of getting over it – I’ve always known I’m disruptive, I’ve always embraced it. The reasons I am the way I am don’t really matter – I’ve always been unconventional, out-of-the-box, and it’s been one of the things I liked best about myself. I don’t know why realizing it is a “symptom” would hurt so deeply, or change how I perceive that quality.
So, as always – here we go – afraid, and doing it anyway.