Saturday, October 26, 2013

Autism Answer: Being Myself, and Being Different

I  have this memory that reminds me to be myself, even if I'm different.

When I was a little girl, I auditioned for a role in a Pipi Longstockings movie. In a room filled with other little girls, we were asked to take turns walking along a line of tape, imagining we were in a burning tree house and calling for Pipi's monkey friend, Mr. Nielsen.

As I nervously waited my turn I saw all the other girls desperately calling for Mr. Nielsen, but none of them seemed to remember that they would be surrounded by smoke and heat. So, armed with intention and an idea to make me stand out as the better actress and imaginer, I waited my turn. But when it got time for me to strut my stuff, I was too scared. I didn't want to stand out anymore. I just wanted my turn to be over and for everyone to stop looking at me. So, I just walked the line of tape the same way all the other little girls had done it.

Afterward, I was painfully upset with myself for chickening out. I kept wanting to say, "Wait! I was kidding! I meant to do this..." I didn't care about the role or the movie, just my own actions, or lack thereof.

It's pretty fitting that an epiphany about being comfortably myself would happen then, considering that Pipi Longstockings is one fabulously wonderful and unapologetically "herself" kinda girl!!

From that day and forever after I would remind myself to at least try. I would remind myself that whether my efforts received the intended result or not, at least I would know I had tried and been true to myself. I had listened to my own ideas and trusted them, even if they--and me!-- were different from everyone else.

I didn't always succeed, it took a lot of courage and practice, but at least I always remembered. 

And now, as I watch my children struggle similarly, I try to help them remember too!! 

It's important to be yourself, even if your different. 
It's wonderful to be yourself, especially if your different!