Historically, the world has not been kind to those who are deemed “abnormal.” As humanity has evolved (or devolved, depending on your view), those who challenge the system in any way or dare to think outside the box have been ostracized by their peers and sometimes have even been cruelly abused. Ignorance is and always has been one of the greatest dangers to the growth and preservation of the human race, mainly because of its tendency to manifest as cruelty, violence, or fear. Until we rethink our misconceptions and realize that “abnormal” doesn’t actually exist, no real change can be made. Unfortunately, most people will never reach this “ah-ha!” moment, embrace themselves, or celebrate the fact that what sets them apart also functions as the greatest advantage they will ever have. Instead, they will just keep oppressing others.
I struggled for years, fighting an uphill battle I couldn’t figure out how to win. As the slope steepened and I began to tire, I cried out for help, my heart and mind heavy with agony and desperation. No one answered my plea, no one heard the screaming that drowned out every happy thought or memory I could cling to. I contemplated death by my own hand, frightening everyone around me and forcing them into more than a few painful situations.
I realized, after countless close shaves with insanity and hundreds of hours spent shut away in my room, that the answer had to come from within. The realization that changed my life (the one I’ve hinted at but never truly explained in my previous posts) came in surges that were initiated by my mother one night when I was a junior in high school. She called me into her room after we’d been screaming at each other all day, her voice breaking as she spoke. I shambled in, my head spinning with no sign of slowing down or losing any kind of momentum. I looked at her, and I saw that her face was soaked with tears. “Hayden,” she choked, her eyes searching mine, “when is this going to stop? When are you going to give yourself permission to love yourself and be loved by others?” I sat on the bed next to her, buried my face in my palms, and sobbed. “I’m broken,” I said, my chest heaving and my breaths coming in short, violent gasps. “I was born broken, and everyone else wasn’t.” She looked at me, managing a small smile as she said softly, “You only broke when you believed you were broken. You’ll be fixed the moment you discover how wrong you were.”
I left her room pensive and receptive, my world still in pieces but my resolve to find happiness stronger than ever. It took a few days for everything to hit me, but when it did, it hit hard. The chains holding me back broke (I could almost hear the clink!) and fell away, exposing me to an emotion I’d never experienced before. Gratitude. I was grateful to be me, to be the compassionate, understanding, accepting person I knew I was. When I started applying this gratitude to all areas of my life, my world flipped upside down and got a whole lot better. It took months for me to establish lasting friendships and to really delve into the methods and tools that would make me successful, but I knew all of that would come. This amazing turnaround made me realize that it wasn’t my Asperger’s or my differences that made me so unhappy for so long. It was my interpretation of these differences and my willingness to believe every negative thing anyone said to me that hurt and hindered me so much. The moment I welcomed my Asperger’s as an important part of who I was and as an amazing gift, I knew that I was going to be ok.
Everyone has their quirks, their differences, their characteristics that set them apart from every other human being on the planet. No one on this planet can be you better than you. It just can’t happen. Isn’t that the greatest strength anyone can ever possess? YOU are the only one of your kind on the planet, and no one excels at being you and knowing you like you do. Shouldn’t that be something to enjoy and celebrate? “Normal” doesn’t exist. Everyone on the planet is different and special in the most extraordinary ways, so “normal” can’t exist the way we think it does.
Be grateful that you are you. Love you for you. Live life with gratitude, not contempt or regret. I promise it will be the best decision you’ll ever make.