The other day I was looking through some comments people had made on an autism website where they said that they would take away their child’s autism if they could. I was thinking about this and wondering just what that could mean for both the parents and the child.
The more I think about what is “normal” in society, the more I am glad that I am not normal. Even though the world is more accessible now than ever, normal is becoming more and more influenced by a select few. While most of us understand that people aren’t the way tv depicts them, we are still influenced by television and the media in what we see as normal. It is normal to want nice hair and a perfect body and the best clothes and fancy cars and big houses and parties with lots of beer and access to all the men or women we want.
Normal is wanting everything we don’t have and not being content with the things we do. Normal is not having time for your kids because making money is more important. Normal is being divorced or cheating on your spouse or having sex as a teenager. Normal is going to a 9-5 job and making just enough money to pay for your expenses while maxing out your credit cards on things you don’t need. Normal has ultimately come to be about stuff- not people.
Normal isn’t opening the door for someone. Normal isn’t giving to someone in need just because you enjoy doing it. Normal isn’t going out of your way to make someone feel included. Normal isn’t trying to make the world a better place- normal is trying to put yourself in a better place than the world.
And I’m not saying that the majority of people fit these descriptions, only that this is the perception of normal and sometimes even the goal of normalcy.
In this world where normal has come to mean exclusion and selfishness and elevation, I am so glad to be abnormal. If I didn’t have autism, if I hadn’t gone through depression, if I was born as the person I dreamed of being, would I be normal? Would I be petty and ungrateful and selfish?
This reminds me of a quote in Disney’s Hercules. Hercules says that when he was a kid he wanted to be just like everyone else. Then Meg responds, “You wanted to be petty and dishonest?” It’s interesting that we all want to be so normal, but we don’t really think about what normal can mean.
I’ll admit that I still am selfish and ungrateful at times and I am definitely not free of flaws, but my differences have humbled me. I have a feeling that if I didn’t have the problems I do, I wouldn’t see those with problems. I have a feeling that I would care only for myself and seek to give myself the best position in life.
No, it’s not easy to have autism. No, it’s not easy to go through life different and lonely. No, it’s not easy to not be normal. But… do I really want to give up the gift I’ve been given to live a life of ease? Do I want to give up my perspective so that I wouldn’t have to try as hard? No, I do not.
Having autism isn’t easy. Being different isn’t easy. Not being able to make friends or even talk to some of the friends I have isn’t easy. But I would not give up autism for the easiness. I would not give up my compassion for the easiness. I would not give up being who I am for the easiness.
Autism isn’t easy, but it is worth it. If only for the comfort of knowing we are different, it is worth it. And as the world grows more and more materialistic and misogynistic and selfish, it becomes more and more worth it.