Have you ever wondered what would have happened if your life had taken a different path? That was the beginning of an intriguing radio ad for an airline I heard recently.
It may not be a good idea to worry too much about what ifs, but I sometimes reflect on this. It’s like living in a bubble universe, and I have a different life in another bubble. What if I could escape to one of the other bubbles, or get the life the other me has? I also think about how I can change the course of my life by making good decisions, which is what I’ve done.
I live in a bubble where I’m a man from Norway who married a black woman from Arkansas, USA. I also live in a bubble where my own family is more important than the one I was born into. Another decision I made was not to hide. Many people with developmental disorders, and their comorbid conditions, have the ability to hide, or do they? Many of us struggle on the job market, but some would probably have managed better if working part-time was an option. It’s not always financially realistic, so we try for something that may not be possible. I was, in a way, encouraged to hide. I was adviced to always hide my weak sides when I applied for jobs, and I tried, but found it uncomfortable promising the employers something I couldn’t possibly give them. I suppose I succeeded because they usually didn’t get what they expected. It wasn’t enough to get a competent employee, and I was often the best qualified, because they always wanted more.
I was one of those that had to live for a while, and get some pretty brutal experiences on the job market, before I was diagnosed, but that wasn’t the end of it. I didn’t know what I was hiding, but I did try to the best of my abilities to hide myself the first 42 years of my life. I reached that age 9 years ago, which is when I knew what I was. The halfass medical review concluded with nonverbal learning disability, which was at least a place to start.
I didn’t want to live under cover any more, so I started being open about it. There were multiple reasons for telling people about NLD. I guess I wanted to educate people, because I still encounter GPs that haven’t heard about NLD at all. I moved last year, and the first doctor I went to in the new town had to make me repeat nonverbal learning difficulties five times before he concluded that it was irrelevant. I had finshed school, so what did I need to learn?
That would have been a major WTF-moment if I had had expectations, but 9 years of experiences like that doesn’t exactly give you any. I knew I had to travel down the path towards change, and my potential, without much outside help. I travel partly alone and partly with my family, which is why I call my blogg I am more. I want to show that I, we, and people with related diagnoses, are more than people think we are. I may have started out with some disadvantages, but I think I made pretty good use of what I had.
Hiding who you are is a perfectly acceptable response. It still is, because as much as the society I live in claims to be more tolerant than ever, that doesn’t mean the same as acceptance. Making people aware of us isn’t enough, because they can still ignore us, and they do. People can still choose not to accept us, to discriminate. So I have chosen to show part of my identity, hoping things will change. There are things I’d like to write about, but some restraints are necessary. Besides, no one wants to know everything. No one is that important. There is such a thing as TMI, but I find that revealing some of my personality is useful. The alternative is that you’re always on your guard, and then I mean always.
It would be like cosplaying every time you went outside, and perhaps you wouldn’t know yourself who the real you were. You’d know that it wasn’t you people liked, it was your cosplay character. Being you could put you in charge. I’m far more interested in negative thinking than the positive crap. The latter is frequently associated with a fruitless quest for happiness, while the negative deals with the diffcult things we don’t want to think about. It’s a tool we can use to identify problems and figure out a way to solve it. So negative thinking is more about being prepared than about being negative.
It’s about finding a balance, and I suppose the same goes for our identity as well. You don’t want to reveal everything, but there may be a part of you that needs to come out. We have enough challenges as it is, but if we can figure out what parts of us to show, and how much, we might get an easier journey. We might find the white holes that could transfer some of the content from other bubbles, and into our own. We can get in touch with the other us, the us we want to be, or the us we need. We may even find an earlier us, one we liked, but had to leave behind.