One thing I’ve recently learned is the importance of remaining authentic in day to day life. I’m currently working hard and trying my best to remain authentic, especially in social situations. Having Asperger’s, or Autism Spectrum Disorder, I’d learnt to put on a mask in social situations to mask my different traits. Most people tend to wear a mask in social situations anyway, but for me it was a lifeline in order to tackle my social anxiety about being different. Masking runs through my veins, it’s what I’ve become accustomed to, it’s what I’m used to and living without it can be incredibly challenging, but I’m trying.
Now, some of you reading this might be in the same boat, whether you have ASD or not, so I wanted to talk a little bit today about the importance of staying authentic and true to yourself throughout your daily life.
Living a life through a filtered lens so to speak and leading your life with a mask can be beneficial in ways. It protects our egos from feeling bruised, but it can also lead to burnout and feeling as though our relationships are disingenuous. Have you ever felt as though the person you are when you’re at home is completely different to the person you are when you’re out and about in the world? That’s what I’m trying to get at here. It can be extremely exhausting trying to put on a front for the world to see and sometimes great things can come from peeling back the mask.
Another point I’m trying to make is that trying to remain authentic in a world that isn’t geared towards your disability and feeling as though the stakes are against you can be even more challenging.
Personally, I’ve spent many years trying to perfect my social mask, but it’s led me to suffering with depression, feeling as though my friendships aren’t true friendships because they don’t really know me and feeling as though I’m not staying true to myself.
Remaining authentic in social situations can be an extremely challenging thing to do as we’re leaving our true selves open to judgement and ridicule, but by being open, genuine and true to our selves can make the world of difference. It starts with simple things like trying to be more assertive with our wants and needs rather than just going along with things for the sake of it.
I’ve been practising this a little more lately and I’m already noticing such a huge difference in the way I feel about myself and I’m noticing true colours of interpersonal relationships begin to unfold. I’ve learnt where to cut ties and where to repair bridges, all by remaining true to myself.
I know it won’t be the case for everyone, but I’ve actually found it a lot easier than I thought to just open up a bit more and be myself. I’m less driven by an egotistical need for approval and more driven by a need for people who are as genuine as I am.
I realise a lot of this comes with getting older, not that 23 is old, but you get what I mean, I’m learning that the mask I so desperately put on throughout my teenage years is no longer needed and to be honest, probably never was needed in the first place.
I know I mentioned on Quirks and Queries, my since-deleted blog, the problems with masking and I mentioned about burnout, feeling depressed and untrue to yourself and I suppose this is a continuation of these thoughts I had last year. A huge step I’m making in accepting who I am is being more open and honest about the day to day difficulties I experience with ASD and subsequent connected diagnoses such as depression, anxiety and traits of EUPD.
I suppose, the long and short of what I’m trying to say is that by remaining true to yourself, however difficult that may seem, you’ll find true interpersonal relationships blossom and your natural confidence will increase and the world around you will seem much more prosperous and abundant. I’ve found the world has become richer and I’m seeing life through my own eyes as opposed to the eyes of other people’s perception of me. It’s made me challenge core beliefs I’ve had about myself, practise more self-care and self-compassion and my mental health in general is improving. I’ll always have ASD, but that doesn’t mean to say that I have to have social anxiety and depression for the rest of my life.
So wherever you are on your journey, I wish you all the best
Until next time,