This entry isn't strictly about Neurodiversity, but I do feel that it is relevant on a larger scale. I know we've all felt it; the judgment of our peers, the social pressure to conform to an acceptable definition of normal. Indeed, we seem to thrive on shaming as a society, whether well-intentioned or otherwise. We seem to have a perception that shame is the only way we can improve ourselves and others, and this couldn't be more wrong.
In addition to being an Aspie, I've always struggled with my weight. I've never been a small kid: I love food far too much for that to ever have been the case. When I reached my first year of university, things came to a head and, like most new college students, I lived off the cheap food available in the cafeteria. Needless to say, I gained a lot of weight that year.
Something I'm only starting to admit to myself and to others now is that I flirted with an eating disorder that year. My step mom and my dad are wonderful people don't get me wrong, but they haven't always been the most accepting of the concept of body positivity. So thoroughly did I embrace this skewed vision of healthy where "thin is in" that it got to the point where I was afraid to eat a chocolate bar. I would also obsessively weigh myself every day and if I went a pound higher than where I wanted to be, I'd deprive myself of some morsel of food in order to compensate.
Recently, I've come to the point where I no longer care about what people think. It wasn't an easy journey, and there are always moments where I'm weak, but I've been making a concerted effort to love and accept myself as I am. I'm easily far heavier now than I was back then, but I also feel far happier emotionally and spiritually than I did. As I realized this, it made me really consider what is important in life.
Judgment and arbitrary definitions of normalcy are things that everyone faces at some point or another. Everyone and their dog has some idea of how others should be, and this leads to a high incidence of depression and suicide in our society, as people find that they ultimately can't compete. In this world, self love is a radical, much needed and yet little understood thing. There is something profoundly liberating about accepting oneself as one is, and yet society continues to encourage the opposite from all of us.
It's taken me a long time to get to the point where I love myself fully, as a larger human, as an Aspie, and as anything else that may be a part of my makeup. Even still, self love will always be something I struggle with. It's high time we start promoting this concept. After all, we are all perfectly who we are meant to be…why shouldn't we love ourselves for it?