A 2020 Resolution to Unmask and Live Unapologetically and Authentically4 min read

Every year, I vow to lose weight, and I don’t do it. Or to find love, which I now have. Or to do more self-care, which is a noble goal, and I am improving. But what of this year?? This res­o­lu­tion has to last a decade, so it must be big and bold and worthy of ten years of hard work.

It must be a short­coming worthy of this type of ded­i­ca­tion.

Only one word big enough came to mind as a 40 year old woman: authen­ticity. But how does one embrace true authen­ticity? Especially in a cul­ture that truly despises it? That cul­ture is some­what respon­sible for authen­tic­i­ty’s extinc­tion.

I have been exam­ining the chal­lenge over the last few days, and these are my thoughts. Authenticity begins with attempts to unmask and be autistic where pos­sible, but this is only the bare begin­ning.

True authen­ticity isn’t just being your autistic self, your lib­eral self, or your constructed-identity self: it is being your whole self– beyond the labels or the descrip­tors. It is being who you truly are and sharing what you truly think and and feel. It is doing so at the risk of being unpop­ular, even with the people who claim to truly love you.

The sad truth is that despite the con­nec­tions allowed by social media, we are less our­selves than ever. It does not sur­prise me that the new mil­lennia birthed The Rise of ABA. Getting us all to behave and look the same through rein­force­ment is the tor­turous reflec­tion of society today.

There, I said it.

Today’s social media cul­ture divides us into groups: con­ser­v­a­tive, lib­eral, autism moms, autistic people, LGBTQ+ people and allies, reli­gious folk often against LGBTQ values, etc. The groups create a sense of belonging and iden­tity, but they also keep a close eye on us. We must con­form to our groups– OR ELSE.

What is this elu­sive “or else”? We could be unfriended or blocked or reported on social media. We could have our offending posts shared around Facebook to groups fully intent on destroying us. Or, in some ways the most sin­ister– we could be slan­dered and aban­doned by those who claimed to love and sup­port us.

Joseph McCarthy was a con­ser­v­a­tive politi­cian who tar­geted Communists for polit­ical, finan­cial, and social ruin. What made him espe­cially dan­gerous, how­ever, was that he also tar­geted both polit­ical ene­mies and those against his bul­lying in gen­eral as being Communists– effec­tively ruining them.

Social media has spawned a ready McCarthyism across the left AND the right, the con­ser­v­a­tive AND the lib­eral. The activist AND the anti-activist. I and some of the people I love most have been vic­tims of it. And it hurts, espe­cially as someone who spent my entire child­hood being rou­tinely excluded. It is tempting to be inau­thentic and fit in. But this is not what what I want for myself or those I love.

Sometimes I learn some­thing and choose inter­nally to make a change. Not through bul­lying or spam­ming or exclu­sion, but by gently being lead to examine my blindspots and biases. I am not talking about this. That is how we grow. Authenticity doesn’t mean rigidity. Hearts are moved and that is how we evolve– if we are lucky.

I am talking about being dropped or reported by people claiming to be friends because we dis­agree once. I am talking about the sheer number of people on land and online, who have tried to destroy me for not con­forming exactly to their ideas or party line. Before, my habit was to slink away, con­form, or dis­ap­pear.

NO MORE.

A 2020 Resolution

I vow to try my hardest to be myself.

To say no when I mean no. To be honest even when unpop­ular. To worry more about who I am than about what you think.

I vow to find the strength to speak my truth even if my page has .5 out of 5 stars or saying no costs me my job. I vow to sup­port others, whom I care for, who do the same even if the social media machine destroys them.

I vow to share memes that I truly con­nect with, not just the socially approved memes of my groups and net­works. I vow to speak up when the ends don’t jus­tify the means. I choose to be afflicted rather than com­fort­able.

When asked to break a child both on and off the clock at my job or in my life, I will refuse and explain why as gently as I can. I will offer alter­na­tives. I will walk away if I must. I will only sup­port causes I truly believe in– not those that have become pop­ular with my kind.

I will be a Zorro and not an Avenger when my con­science calls me to be.

If I am forced to walk alone, I will do it with my head held high.

I, like each of you, was born to be no one but me. It is the one thing I truly do better than anyone else.

So here’s to a new era, one of authen­ticity over pop­u­larity, of holding others account­able through words and laws, of telling the truth and taking the con­se­quences.

And yes, of doing self care when this all becomes too painful. I will be a Revolutionary in the Era of the Social US. I will strive to be only me.

May peace, pros­perity, love, and joy find each of you in the new year and decade to come!

8 Comments

  1. Love this! It is so impor­tant to all of us, whether we be ND or NT. All are to be celebrated–to become the whole of who we are.

  2. “Not an Avenger?”
    Captain America has said:
    “When the whole world is against you, and they’re telling you to move, you stand up,plant your­self like a tree, look them in the eyes, and say no.”

  3. Thank you for writing this. I am inspired to do the same. Conforming is exhausting. ❤️

  4. I’m prob­ably ND. But I grew up in the 1970s when that wasn’t a thing. Autism wasn’t autism unless it was pro­found.

    I had things I wanted to do and expe­ri­ence in my life and I fig­ured out in my 20s (in the 1990s) that I’d have to learn how to work with the world as it is to get what I wanted. So I did. I learned a lot about how to work with others — mostly the ability to rec­og­nize behaviors/behavior pat­terns and have ways of responding that were effec­tive. Almost like an enor­mous try-catch state­ment in com­puter code. I guess that means I did a lot of masking.

    Now I’m in my 50s and I’ve gotten a lot of what I wanted. In many ways it’s been great. And I’m also exhausted. I think I’d like to focus on being myself more as well. Except for one thing. Where being myself comes across as being a jerk, I’d like to still put a clamp on those behav­iors, choose behav­iors that are kinder and more effec­tive. I don’t want to be a jerk in the world. Kindness is so impor­tant.


  5. That is a beau­tiful and insightful res­o­lu­tion and I sup­port you.

  6. This was the journey I set out in a year ago at the tender (ahem!) age of 48.
    There’s been ups and downs, but I’m so glad to finally be just me. Free of pre­tence, still polite, still tactful (where I know I need to be) but not hiding my true nature from anyone.
    Good luck being you 👍

  7. Oscar Wilde said “You should always be your­self because everyone else is taken” 🤗

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