I spend a great deal of effort trying to act normal.
Long before I had words to explain it, I desperately tried to hide my autism, and still do. The only person I’ve told about my autism doesn’t believe me because of how seemingly successful I am.
I find making conversation difficult and deeply anxiety inducing no matter how much I learn, and I have learned a few things, albeit slowly.
I learned that parroting the words I heard other people say during previous conversations does not bode well, especially when I am confronted about these hand-me-down statements that I am unable to defend because they are neither my actual opinion, nor facts I am able to cite the sources for. Whenever this happens I feel ashamed, like I gave an incorrect answer to a test question in front of my peers, all of whom knew the right thing to say.
Likewise, trying to learn how to have a conversation from watching movies or TV doesn’t translate over into the real world, which is not scripted by rom-com writers. Turns out Prince Charming is a rapist and the mail man lost my dreams after I shipped them off without a tracking number.
Although many people share my insecurities, I still experience imposter syndrome regardless of the circumstances: whether with family, friends, children or strangers, I feel my face blush, my palms sweat, and my heart palpitate simply at the thought of interacting with other humans, yet I push through and carry on, dancing through life as if my feet are not in excruciating pain with every step.
I’m too anxious to let anyone know about my anxiety, about how it feels like an invisible handicap that pervades every moment. All I can do is love the struggle.