I can't believe it's New Year's Eve. It feels just like another day. Time is an odd concept to me. It always has been. The beginning of a new year doesn't really feel like it has much significance, because honestly, it just feels like another day. The emphasis people put on days like today and tomorrow doesn't really make sense to me, but I just go along with it because of course, like anyone else, I like the idea of new beginnings, and I also try to fit in with the crowd (sometimes).
I do think that taking some time for reflection can be a good thing. Taking some time to look back and see what the past 365 days have brought, what I've learned, where I've grown, where I can spot good and beauty. It's a helpful exercise at times. And I suppose that this is what has brought me to this post today. Because this year the most profound thing that happened to me was that I got my official ASD diagnosis. I think only other late diagnosed Autistics can really understand just how significant this is. Some people didn't understand why I wanted a diagnose in the first place. Why label? Why go through the expensive evaluation when you've gotten along just fine before now?
Except I haven't gotten along just fine. And it's not really a label.
I went through the evaluation process early in 2013. I actually think I emailed my prospective psychologist on New Year's Eve. I wasn't expecting to hear back from her right away because it was a holiday, but she responded quickly and after a brief phone chat, we set up an intake appointment. It took several visits and then I had to wait several more weeks to get my evaluation papers written up, but eventually everything came together and I had my diagnosis.
This wasn't a label to me. This was an identity marker. This was about finding myself and my community. This was like finding out that I belonged to an entirely different culture and I didn't know it until I had lived over two decades in a foreign one. I tried to get along okay in this foreign culture, but I kept saying things wrong and breaking social norms and not understanding and feeling overwhelmed and anxious and scared. But with this diagnosis, I found my place. It was confirmed.
The official diagnosis opened up so many doors for me. I was able to give a presentation to staff counselors at my university about ASD and how they could better serve Autistic students. Because I had the backing of a professional diagnosis, I finally felt confident coming out of the Autistic closet and I posted about my condition on Facebook. I got so many positive responses from many of my friends, and I felt such a sense of freedom that I didn't have to hide anymore.
I'm still in the process of trying to be authentic me, because I stuffed and hid and tried to be a chameleon for so long. But this year has brought so much growth and positive change for me. This year, more than any other year, has been a year of becoming. A year of Being. A year of understanding myself and a year of giving up on trying to fit in with everyone else.
During my best moments, I feel so confident. So serene. So full of assurance and self-esteem. Of course this doesn't stay all the time because I have mood swings like any other, but it's still there at my core. And honestly, this all stemmed from going through evaluation because that helped confirm things to me and helped me find myself.
Am I excited about 2014? I don't really know. I'm anxious about it, because there's so much uncertainty. But there are also things to look forward to, and people to be thankful for, and beautiful things everywhere I look. I'm ready to say farewell to the old year, thankful for all it taught me. I'm ready to embrace the new year and see what else is in store for me.