I have to keep asking myself questions to identify this emotion. It feels familiar.
This feeling is not about anyone in particular. This experience could be a matter of my emotional projection. It makes me feel the need to apologize for my inability to understand myself or for failing to be like everyone else.
Sometimes, I question if I am angry for not being fully understood. But I put an end to anger obstructing my reality a while ago; I know that feeling very well. I am not angry. Other times, I entertain the thought of this being jealousy. My life looks very different from those who are close to me. Our lives are no longer mirrors as they used to be. They have matured and met milestones, while I seem to lag or miss them entirely. But I genuinely do not desire what they have. I don't expect to experience life in the way that they do. Envy is not the name of this feeling.
If not Anger or Envy, then what? Applying a single label to such a complex emotion is difficult. It is even more challenging to understand your own complex emotions. This feeling stings. It makes me feel wounded and isolated. I think the word for this is hurt or saddened.
I am saddened by not having mirrors and discouraged because my life looks different. Sad because I am so different. It hurts having to witness how unrelatable I am. Hurt by the burden of my uniqueness. My otherness is apparent. Life has made sure of that. It leaves me with feelings I can only label as "not good."
I see the gears turning as I witness people trying to understand me, accept me, or rationalize how I exist in this world. The feeling of knowing this is not good. Sometimes, I want to tell myself that this is just an assumption. I am projecting, and there's no way for me to know this is how people experience me. But I do know.
Some attempt to extend comfort by reassuring me that my life will look like everyone else's one day. Others say that I will come around eventually. Although unintentional, these reassurances imply that my desires and how I exist now are wrong. I often wonder why their optimism for me is dependent on my changing. It feels odd. It feels like rejection. They rationalize my otherness based on my changing one day.
My "otherness" has been highlighted since I was a child. From my speech, academics, social awareness or lack thereof, to my interests. My otherness was and remains to be stronger than the influences in my environment. A girl being watched, unknowingly marching to the beat of her own drum.
Viewed as a fish out of water, I am familiar with the confusion and sometimes frustration felt through the hushed voices and gazes of others. I never knew and still don't know how to respond to this. My emotions and interests were a dichotomy between too much or not at all for a while. No one could read me. Sometimes, this still is the case.
My otherness. I constantly have to explain it or unsuccessfully hide it. My haphazard nature during both of those actions makes me feel alone. No one shares in this otherness with me. I understand that I am not an outsider. I know I am welcomed and loved. But I am not relatable. I am not the same. It's lonely. I would be less distant If I didn't feel like my world was changing faster than I could keep up with.
It's almost as if everyone else notices something about me that I do not see. I used to wonder if it would ever go away. I wondered if my otherness would ever leave me. I didn't particularly appreciate existing this way and tried my best to assimilate. But now I wonder, will I ever figure out how this otherness found me? Will I ever meet people who share this otherness with me?
I have always navigated the world keenly aware of my differences. Despite not having an explanation for these differences, I knew I could not exist in any other way. No matter how hard I tried. The experience of learning, trying, and failing to be normal was isolating at the very least and debilitating at the worst. It is very common for people who look like me, Black and female, to have their Autistic traits overlooked during developmental years. We often go undiagnosed for a significant portion of our lives.
When I was diagnosed with ADHD at 23, my world made a little more sense.
I still have no idea how to describe the experience of being diagnosed with Autism Spectrum disorder at 25. I have no words for this experience. I am actively going through a cycle of grief, deconstruction, and acceptance. Grieving for little Kyra, who was aware of what others dismissed. Deconstructing my self-concept and internalized ableism. Accepting that I have disabilities. Accepting that I am Autistic.
I wish I could say more. I wish I had the words. When I think of the safest place to be vulnerable, I think of my living room and this blog. So, this is how I choose to share this aspect of myself. For now, I just want people to know that I am Autistic.
If you question whether I actually am autistic, I encourage you to keep that to yourself.
I hope that most find this insightful, but more importantly, I hope this serves as a refresher on the importance of compassion and empathy. Some people don't have the words for what they are experiencing. Without an explanation, I urge you to be kind anyway.