I had fallen into that part of the Internet—where 22 Words looks at Photoshop edits by a humorist graphic artist, James Fridman—when I stumbled on a photograph of a young woman with vitiligo.
While I don’t have this skin condition, it runs in my genes; I remember learning about it when I was young, through the experiences of another family member. The story came while I was receiving comfort for the scarring on my upper arms, during my childhood battle with eczema.
The young woman with vitiligo asked James Fridman to remove her scarring, so she could “see if normal was prettier,” when he replied:
Your skin condition doesn’t make you less attractive. Do not let it ruin your confidence. People will see past it once you stop concentrating on it.@fjamie013
I thought about that. In the context of the Photoshop request, it definitely made sense. Embracing ourselves builds confidence. And people see confidence. Therefore, embrace ourselves.
But what about when you don’t want people to see past something?
Is that how you can tell what’s important and unimportant?
Is that how you tell when to concentrate?
Do you focus on what you want people to see?
When I lifted the ideas I found from this inner reflection, and applied them like a thin film over my open and active discussion of my autism, I realized why I felt this urge to write about the spectrum.
It’s not just the need to create a safe space for other autistic people to discover themselves; while I like to think sharing my story will help people understand themselves better, that’s a secondary motive.
The deep, driving force behind my writing—when I turn to Twitter and WordPress to discuss autism—is to make people see I am autistic.
It’s important to me, for people to know I am autistic.
It reaches integral fibers in my internal values, and thrums them like a song, when I am able to live openly autistic.
In order to challenge ableism, I need to be publicly autistic, to represent autism as loudly as possible, and so I write to make people see I am autistic.
I write to break stereotypes and illusions. I write to give a face to something that, for the most part, has been misrepresented by ignorant, neurotypical rhetoric—not actually autistic rhetoric. Not #OwnVoices.
So I concentrate on my autism. I discuss it, write about it, doodle about it, and tweet with other actually autistic people. I am purposefully concentrating. It gives me fuel. It’s a good use of my attention.
Now I need to reflect on what I want people to look past.
What do I want people to ignore?
Not only will that help me build confidence, it’ll make my intentional focus louder. It’ll take away any white noise zipping around my meaningful words.