This article is part of my Life with Asperger’s series.
Being ‘true’ to your self can be easier said than done. It doesn’t matter if you’re Neuro-typical, Aspie, or something entirely else. It’s a struggle for many people, day in and day out. But as an individual who lives with Asperger’s myself, the idea of ‘true’ or truth really becomes the question at hand. What is truth and thus what is the ‘true’ me? Honesty is such an important part of who I am that I can’t imagine being anything other than true. And yet, every day of my existence I violate that very principle.
I’ve discussed in other blog entries, like my Aspie Oscar for Acting article, about how much acting I really do each day. It makes me really frustrated sometimes when I think about having to do that. Not only is the process of acting exhausting both mentally and physically, it doesn’t help the proverbial ‘war of the minds’ I already face within myself
I’ve known for a long time there were two distinct parts of my mind -- and I’m not talking about multiple-personality-disorder (MPD); don’t worry – they’ve checked me for that too. I’m talking about what amount to almost two very distinct personalities within my head. And for years, I couldn’t figure out which of them was the ‘real’ or ‘true’ me, the real John. I always knew, and would even tell close friends like my wife and mentor that, “One is definitely smarter than the other, because when they fight, it kicks my a**.” I also recognized one was incredibly gifted with ideas while the other side of me was more concerned with perfection and idealism. One side of me could lie, and quite well when it wanted to – though I’ve made it a point to stop that since my early 20’s; I was a more prolific liar prior to that point and I still can’t understand what that was all about. One side of me thinks incessantly, about anything and everything – backwards, forwards, sideways, and up and down – simply for the fact of exploring & thinking to learn more ‘stuff.’ The other is more focused on being calculated and ensuring the flurry of words produced by the other are articulated properly to others around me.
Who are these goobers? (GOO-BER: a goofball). Well, they’re both technically me right? Or are they? I mean, which one is the TRUE me?
I thought a lot about it and recently I think I stumbled over what’s probably more obvious than I could see before. For a very long time I figured perhaps I had a hemispheric brain war on my hands, where my analytical, calculated, and grounded left hemisphere was constantly in skirmishes with my artsy, dreamy and creative right hemisphere. The realist vs. the idealist.
Of course I figured I could just be completely crazy and have two conscious minds or something, but I figured that wasn’t likely either. Maybe I was abducted in my youth? No… that’s not right. (and don’t even get me started on that subject)
So, after contemplating this for a little bit (also known as years of my life) I finally have come to what I believe to be a fairly good idea of what these two conjoined minds are within my head. One of these is, again, obviously my true self, which in this case I believe to be my aspie side – ultimately, because that’s who I biologically am in the flesh. I have Asperger’s Syndrome, thus am on the Autism spectrum, and thus it’s a neurological condition that essentially gives me my many colorful characteristics in life. That’s the TRUE me. As a friend says, “We’re the rainbows.”
So who’s this other guy in my head? He’s the perfectionist, the calculated individual who want’s to make sure it’s done the “right way.” He’s definitely not as smart as me, but here’s the really weird part (yes, it gets weirder). I tend to feel and will proclaim, in most real life instances, especially when asked, that he IS me. I’ll use him and his characteristics to define myself by.
Wait, say what now? … how is that possible? Why would I do such a thing if I know he’s clearly not the REAL me?
Well, he is the me you’ll see walking down the street. Or sitting in a restaurant. He’s the me you’ll find at work, or around family and even most friends. He’s the guy I’m living as almost all day long – and he’s exhausting! He’s boring to me, he’s a faker, and he’s genuine, but not really authentic – mainly because he takes the ‘real’ me and filters it down to something more basic, simple and elemental. Like that’s me? Simple is NOT a word you should use to describe me or other aspies – just trust me.
I suspect this stranger in my head is my Neuro-typical (NT) persona. The guy who has learned to ‘fit in’ and make me more normal in the world. He’s my mask, my costume, and my ‘Harry Potter’ vanishing cloak. I’m still very much in here, under the facade, but he doesn’t like to show that part of me too often. He doesn’t like my Aspie side and I don’t much like him… eh, and so it goes.
But when I met another Aspie, like me, for the first time ever – something in my brain kinda went ‘CLICK.’ It’s like it woke me up and I could suddenly feel the color of my personality bursting from every seam of my costume. Proverbially speaking, I wasn’t sure if I should run and hide or if I should stand there and put on a magical color show. I’m still not sure what to do honestly. But I’m starting to like the colors.
I’m actually starting to like the colors a lot. It’s a struggle still and I know there are going to be challenges. But for the first time in a very long time, I’ve awoken from my ‘slumber’ and I’m starting to gaze out at the world with newfound vision and perspective. Call it a major paradigm shift – the universe kicking me swiftly in the butt and telling me to ‘get with it man!’
Ultimately I realized something pure… something TRUE. Something that was beautiful even.
God (or whatever you want to call ‘it’) made me this way for a reason. I was born with the talents and characteristics I have and I shouldn’t neglect that fact. These are my gifts and my capacities and it’s up to me to make SURE they are yielded in the proper way during my short, but hopefully very meaningful, life.
Look, no matter where you are or who you are – it’s never too late to be YOU. Look inside yourself and you’ll find the truth about you. I encourage you to do whatever it takes to find that part of you and to celebrate it. Be bold – show the world who you are. I know you’ll be glad you did. The world needs more color…
So let your incredible colors shine… because you’re beautiful just the way you are.
And that… well that’s the TRUE YOU! I’ll celebrate that with you, always.
More to come,
Read more from my Life with Asperger’s series.