Authentic Lives



I am a 31-year-old Autistic woman, scientist, disability advocate, and abuse survivor. I was systematically excluded from making appropriate contributions to the world prior to my autism diagnosis, as my inability to “be normal” caused others to discriminate against me. Armed with the language and self-knowledge I needed in order to help others understand me and fulfill my access needs, my goal is to spend my life serving the cause of making this world a kinder, gentler place for everyone, especially those who have access needs.

What I would like to see in the world, rather than people attempting to have “normal” lives, is people living AUTHENTIC lives. An authentic life is one that the person creates according to what matters most to them and brings them joy – close family or good friends, belonging to a wider community with a positive common goal, enjoyable work and fulfilling hobbies, or a lifestyle that promotes physical, mental, and spiritual health, whatever that looks like.

My personal experience of “normality” is that it has been a cudgel wielded against me to shame me for being different. I was very sad at first when I realized that I would never be “normal”, not even a little. Eventually, though, I came up with this saying for myself: I don’t want to be normal, when I have a chance of being exceptional instead.

If I meet someone who objectifies me – calling me an “inspiration” for living, saying “oh we all have difficulties in life”, or similar ableist nonsense – they don’t stay in my life for very long. I have too many important things to do before I die to suffer fools gladly.

— Betsy


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