I was happy when nine years ago I was diagnosed with high-functioning autism at the age of 13. I could justify my actions to myself without feeling weird about whom I was. I had gone on from elementary school at this point and was now in junior high. The biggest behaviour in my life at that point (and still sort of is today even though I think I’m progressing year after year) was how rarely I interacted with the people around me and how much I enjoyed being alone and doing various activities by myself. I accepted myself as autistic when I was diagnosed and then let my solitary life continue on its merry way.
I actually held this attitude throughout junior high and high school. It wasn’t actually until I was in second year of university when I realized that something had to change. I no longer could live without feeling more of a connection to people, especially my peers. There is more than enough to say on this change in my life in one single post so I’ll save that story for a future post. Mind you, this realization didn’t really happen overnight. It’s not as if I one day I was completely happy with my life of solitude and then the next day I had a desperate need to connect with others. Indeed, I occasionally felt a small desire to interact socially more in both junior high and high school. My subconscious, however, always got the better of me. Yes, I thought to myself, it would be nice to have closer friends, to have people over to my house (the only time that happened in junior high and high school was for my 15th birthday) or for me to go visit them (which never happened) and to have strong friendships. But why I bother? I was happy enough with the way things were, and even if I did try anyway, I’d probably do something wrong in the process, causing the people I would betrying to connect with to back away, saying what a weird person I was.
This was probably the greatest fear I had as a teenager. I had a lot of acquaintances throughout this time of my life. Only a slight minority ever really weren’t nice to me and large number of fellow students were actually impressed with me, particularly where I had passion and a large strength in mathematics, which I demonstrated several times in class. I wasn’t prepared to try to risk ruining my reputation as a quiet, but good guy. While I had very few enemies, I also had very few friends.