I got asked a profound question yesterday at dinner with friends here in Indy and that was, "Where do you think you'd be if you had not been diagnosed?" I gave a quick answer right away, but the question lingered in my brain and has led to this blog post. So where would I be? The easiest answer would be to say that I wouldn't be where I am now. But that's obvious and there's much more to it than that.
Leading up to my diagnosis I had an inkling that something was different. Well, I always knew that for the longest time but I didn't really think it was me but rather I thought it was everyone else. There was one defining moment about a month before I got diagnosed that I knew it wasn't everyone else. This story I have written before, but it's been a while. Anyway, I was in Florida and was at a hotel and across the parking lot there were three kids goofing around playing keep away of one of their hats. It was the epitome of being a kid and I realized something, as I was talking to my dad on the phone, that I had never done what those three kids were doing. I realized there was always something that kept me from just letting go and being free. Free of what? I was unsure, but I knew something was there.
A few weeks later I would have my diagnosis but let's say I didn't. What would be different? The first thing is that, at that time in the parking lot, I felt an immense anger at myself. "Why couldn't I do that?" I thought. From that thought I then went down the path of wondering why my amount of friends was continually lower than everyone else. The path was a long one with questions, "Why is eye contact hard? Why do others not have the same passion towards their interests? Why aren't other people so obsessive on being perfect? Why is socializing so difficult when others make it look so easy?"
When a person has questions and no answers as to why they are the way they are the trek to find answers can go many ways. For myself, I blamed myself. I blamed myself for everything. Maybe it was because I wasn't all that smart. Maybe it was because I was just weaker than everyone. Maybe it was because I was just too different; a difference that no one could understand but somehow it was all my fault.
The above paragraph might be one of the most open things I've ever written as well as important and I'm not talking about just for myself, but for others. I get asked often times, "Is it important to tell a person that they have Asperger's?" To answer that I have to think about the question last night on where I would be. I know I wouldn't be in a good place and last night I described it as, "If I had not been diagnosed I'm sure I would have imploded on myself." The knowledge that it wasn't my fault, the knowledge that there were others that have the same challenges as I do, and the knowledge that everyone is different was critical.
It's amazing what one bit of knowledge can do for a person. Sure, my introduction wasn't the best as I looked up what it meant on the Internet and got some awful information, but eventually I got to where I am today. I am comfortable with who I am and I realize my differences. Without that knowledge though I'd probably still be that perfectionist who couldn't realize why others didn't share the belief that everything has to be perfect and precise. I'd still be that person who would have no idea why you don't have the same passion towards interest as I do. And most of all, I'd still be that 20 year old in a parking lot in Florida looking out at the world wondering, "Why can't I do that?" instead of the person who is now, slowly, becoming part of this world we live in.