Becoming the aspie

I stretch out my little red legs across the car seat, smooth my patterned skirt and prepare to take another selfie for Facebook. This is one of those moments when even I can see my outfit is Not Normal. Instead of wondering if I should change, I hurry to take a picture while the sun is out and reflecting off the red tights.

In days gone by, I might have changed; or more likely I would have worried, but not changed, the small amount of bravery I had making me stick my nose up at the world and carry on. These days, I put on the tights and clatter out of the house and only wonder if the selfie of my legs should be done in the car or the garden.

Years ago, when I was trying and failing to fit in at school, I wore brightly-coloured clothes which seemed to clash. I say seemed because to me each outfit made sense, each colour choice carefully matched with something else I was wearing. My shoes matched a tone in my jacket, my socks blended with my blouse, my glasses kachinged with my trousers. As a whole event, my outfit must have looked like some rainbow accident but to me it was an on-purpose.

Somewhere in-between I went into black. I suit black and I felt good in it. I also felt it reflected an important facet of my personality at the time. Looking back this is a worry as it coincided with being newly married.

Then I moved on to more normal adventures. I still liked colour but over the years I experimented with looking like everyone else. You know, it can be nice to fit in, to feel like no one would notice you in a crowd. It took me many, many years to realise people who didn't notice me weren't worth my time and also that I still stood out in a group anyway.

Finally I worked my way back round to now. I think of these as the Post-Blogging Years, or the time since I started this blog and decided privacy was over-rated and what my life needed was the top ripping off it.

Since then everything in life that involves other people will, with a kind of soothing inevitability, be compared to this blog. Once I opened up online to anyone with internet access there was a reference, a way of looking at life that involves not just what has really happened to me but also the kind of person I am post-blog.

I am not the same person now. The lack of privacy has changed me: the talking about everything, the explanations, the introspections and the interactions with all the people I have met online. This made me someone else, with a different life online and also a new perspective on the life I have led - and still lead - offline.

There is a freedom to being yourself in at least one place in life and, given enough of this freedom, you start to relish it and then to feel resentful if it has to be relinquished in other places. So it is that a person who is free once secures it for themselves again. In very small ways this shows and in very, very large ones too.

There I go, out of the door each day and in colourful tights, patterned dresses and skirts, jaunty shoes and new things done to my hair that may or may not unravel to the delight of 8 year old students.

It is a very small thing indeed to match your red rights with a thread in your dress, or to know that the only thing your shoes match are your glasses. Compared to bigger changes, though, they are nothing and compared to opening up to the internet, they don't register as a worry.

In fact, I admit it: once you have freedom, you don't simply want it for other parts of your life, you demand it. Why not be free? Why not be the person you really are? There are many reasons we face but they mainly boil down to not being who we are because of how other people will treat us. Will they leave? Will they worry? Will there be words behind closed doors?

Worse still, will there be shouting and finger pointing and those phrases we have heard over and over again for most of our lives? There might be.

And still, today it will be bottle green tights with an orange-patterned dress and those shoes which make the satisfying clump as I trot along, swinging my big file under my arm and reflecting, as I manage not to fall up someone's step, that this is who I am and this is now who people expect me to be.

The biggest freedom of all is in not fitting in. It shows in the clothes you wear, or your smile, or what you do next that you never did before. This is becoming who you are and showing it so often that people would be surprised if you were anyone else.


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