1. Forcing myself to make eye contact. I’m only going to make eye contact with people I’m feeling connected to; people I want to look in the eye and exchange moments with. People I care about, during moments I care about. I’m not forcing myself to make arbitrary eye contact with people just because I was raised thinking that’s the “respectful” thing to do. I don’t care if you think that makes me seem shady or insecure. I’m not making myself do it anymore. And I only just recently realized I never liked it anyway lol.
  2. Being embarrassed by my selective eating. Feeling bad about it. I’m picky. I can only tolerate so many foods or certain types. I’d love to eat the lovely salad you prepared, but I can’t, and I don’t feel as if I should feel bad about it anymore. I am who I am and I can eat what I can eat. I challenge myself regularly to try new things and sometimes it works out, sometimes it doesn’t. I won’t feel bad or apologize for being a selective eater. I can only handle what I can handle, and I’m not adding stress and pressure to my life over food. I’ll enjoy the foods that give me comfort and taste/feel good to me.
  3. Needing more clarity or direction. My whole life I’ve been fussed at by authority figures for not understanding subtlety, passive instructions, or signals to do something. I’ve been reprimanded for not understanding things that weren’t explained to me, or weren’t explained in a way I understood. I’m not going to feel bad for asking for more information, or seeking another example or way to learn. “The garbage needs to be taken out” is not the same thing as “please take the garbage out”. No, I don’t already know how to do that. No, I’m not already familiar with that concept (just because most people already are). My neurodivergent brain needs more details than that. My brain needs you to be blunt and direct about what you expect from me and how you want me to do it. I’m not going to feel bad for asking for clarity or needing more direction. I’m not going to stress myself out over having to ask questions or worrying that people will be upset with me. I’m not going to settle for passive direction. If you need me to do something, tell me, and tell me how (if necessary), or else it just won’t get done. (And that won’t be my fault).
  4. Being afraid to ask for help or say I’m overwhelmed, or need things to slow down. I’m not going to feel bad or dumb for needing a moment to catch my breath. For needing a moment to calm my buzzing mind. For needing time to process things. In the words of twenty one pilots, “I move slow”. I won’t apologize or feel bad about myself for needing a minute, or asking for help. Please rephrase that question for me so I can understand it better. This store is too much for me, I need to hide for a moment or leave. That TV is too loud, I’m turning it down. This is too much for me to take right now, can we stop or eliminate one thing? My plate is too full; what can I get rid of?
  5. Taking responsibility for intrusive thoughts. I didn’t think you, I didn’t want you — go away. You’re not my problem or my fault. Thinking you doesn’t make me a bad person. You showed up unannounced without my permission. I will turn you over to the Lord and I will move on with my life. I will not dwell on you for one moment longer.
  6. Worrying about being misunderstood. If you don’t understand me that’s okay. I know my intentions. If I’m wrong, I’ll apologize. But I can’t keep worrying about how I’m being perceived (unless it’s a situation in which I think I may have hurt someone’s feelings or something). I can’t keep exhausting myself imagining what you think or feel about me. The truth is I don’t know, and I can’t know. So I’ll leave it up to you to tell me what you think and feel about me. I’m done guessing.
  7. Chasing people. If you want to be around me, be around me. If you care, show it. I have no more time to devote to people who do not devote theirs to me. I have no more patience to accept less than being treated with kindness and respect. There was a time I would’ve hunted you down just to beg for a crumb off your metaphorical table. Now I will be kind but I will not be a dullard. If I see there’s no effort being made I will dismiss myself. You will not miss my presence anyway, cause you never cared in the first place. When you show me you do not value me, I will believe you the first time. I will not cast my pearls before swine. You will get no more pieces of me. Every bit of me must be earned. I will restrict access to myself. Not to be closed off or rigid, but to take care of myself. I will not become hard. I will become smarter. I will no longer love what hates me. I will no longer pine for what hurts me. I will not die for what is killing me.
  8. Forgoing my health. I’m not going to add unnecessary stress to myself. I’m not going to push myself when I don’t feel well. I’m not going to induce a breakdown. I’m not going to neglect sleep or rest. I’m going to sleep when I’m tired. I’m going to eat when I’m hungry. I’m gonna pee when I need to pee!
  9. Compartmentalizing myself. I’m gonna bring all the facets of me together for a reunion. I love Jesus, I love people, I love art, I love literature, I’m morbid, I’m weird, I’m a lot of things. I have a lot of interests. And for so long I thought I couldn’t be and do all those things at once. I had a face for everyone I met. Who do I need to be around this person? Who do I need to be in this setting? I went by what I thought was appropriate and acceptable for the audience. I was terrified what people would think of me if they saw the other parts of me. But all of those parts are me. All of them make me who I am. I’m not ashamed of them anymore.
  10. Giving easy answers. I’m not going to lie to you and tell you I’m fine because it’s socially acceptable. I don’t want easy answers from you, either. I want us both to be honest. I want us all to be honest with each other. Say “I’m hurting and need help” or say “I’m in a bad mood and don’t know why” or say “I’m actually having a surprisingly good day”. Say anything but “good, how are you?”
  11. Apologizing for being different. I’m not difficult. Peculiar, yes. Weird, proudly. Unique, sure. But I’m not gonna feel bad or apologize or long for normalcy anymore. I like who I am, quirks and all. I love aspects of myself, and there are others I still wrestle with. I’m not gonna feel bad about myself for not being “normal”, and I’m not going to long for “normal” anymore. Instead, I long for what feels right and natural to me. I embrace whatever God has for me, even if it’s unconventional, because I know it’ll be what’s best and most fulfilling for me. Me. doesn’t have to fit for anyone else. Just has to fit for me.

I’ve always been neurodivergent. I’ve always been odd. I’ve apologized and tried to compensate for my differentness for so long; but not anymore. I’m okay with being me — exactly how God made me. Even if I have a long way to go and a lot to learn. I’ll probably remember more things that need to go on this list after I hit “publish”… but I realize I’ve been upset and apologizing and feeling bad about myself for a large portion of my life simply because of these things…these things about me that aren’t bad but I somehow convinced myself they were…maybe because they inconvenience other people, or because they require more effort. But I’m not too much. I’m not bad. My brain works differently. My heart works differently. And that’s okay. I’m not gonna apologize for being me anymore.