The other day I was talking to a friend about being Neurodivergent and wearing a mask. Her response was, “Rae, everyone wears a mask, so I don’t understand the big deal.”
I couldn’t help but stare at her. My initial reaction was she was right, but then I realized that’s why she is wrong. Everyone chooses to wear masks, but some people were forced to wear a mask.
Let me explain.
Most people in the Neurodivergent community have had a lot of different therapies in order to develop themselves to be more like non-autistic kids. Many of these developments have not taken consideration the overall psychological damage that comes with it. So many people were abused and neglected in order to fit in with neurotypical children.
So wearing a mask for people in the Neurodivergent community is different. They are not trying to fit in, it’s their survival mechanism. I want to emphasize that this is not the case for everyone, but this is why the term holds so much baggage within the community.
The other problem is many people within the community haven’t really got to experience being themselves comfortably, so this has a lot of negative psychological affects from the lack of boundaries, to social interactions, to self-love, to self-care, to defining their own dreams, and aspirations because they are constantly trying to cover themselves. This is also why it’s different within the context of the Neurodiverse community. Which is why many people are openly advocating for people to remove their mask?
So then the question becomes, well how do I remove my mask that I have been wearing for so long. How do I find myself? What should be my next move? I am not a psychologist, but I believe seeking to understand yourself is the first step and knowing the difference between fulfillment and happiness, should be your next.
- But doesn’t everyone wear a mask? - May 1, 2021
Start by talking to someone, a therapist or close friend. Cut people out of your life who make you mask the most (in my case, this meant a divorce).
I’ve come to experience masking as more of a protective mechanism. Other people can’t be trusted to get to know my true self and not abuse it, so they just don’t get to see it, in the same way that you wouldn’t lend your car to some stranger and expect it to be returned intact. Maybe this is pessimistic, but I really don’t see what benefits unmasking around other people could have for me–at best it’s a privilege they don’t deserve, and at worst it’s a prelude to abuse. I just spend most of my time alone so I don’t need to mask as much.
Exactly. I could not have said it better. Though there is a certain amount of frustration I feel at times, when I am masking because I feel that my full potential is lost by hiding who I am. Sometimes I feel regret because I could have been so much more.