How My Best Friend Helped Me See Myself For Me- Not My Autism
By Chloe Sybert
Hi! I’m Chloe, and I am convinced if you met my best friend Jasmyn and asked her to describe me, the fact that I am autistic wouldn’t even pop up in your conversation. This isn’t because she denies I have challenges, she acknowledges them- and has helped me through many, she simply sees me for who I really am and my deficits aren’t it. For years before I met her, I struggled to have this mindset. I hated who I was because all I saw was everything I couldn’t do, or rather everything statistics or websites said I couldn’t do. I would read that many autistics don’t find employment and I would take that opinion as a fact (which is a foolish because what do they know about my future?) I tried passing which is a term used to describe surpassing your autistic symptoms and coping skills in order to pass as neurotypical (I was miserable) I even prayed my autism away. So, when I met Jasmyn, I almost didn’t expect her to be so accepting and kind to me. This was a far cry from how I was bullied through grade school. Throughout the years of being friends with her, I have slowly learned that I deserve to be respected, I should treat myself like a friend, and I am more than a diagnosis. So, in honor of best friend’s day on June 8th, please allow me to gush about mine.
How Jasmyn helped me embrace my autism:
Shortly before I met her, I had ended a toxic relationship that I had only thought was good for me. I couldn’t see the red flags until after it ended. But looking back I learned that when this person used my autism as an excuse to invalidate my feelings and hurt me, that was wrong! Jasmyn never made me feel bad for crying more than others might find necessary, she never mocked me for getting too sentimental ( she was sentimental too ), and she was sincerely sorry if she hurt me. She didn’t use my disability as an excuse to hurt me or be rude. She appreciated me, never took me for granted, and she reminded me my feelings are valid.
She encouraged me to talk positively about myself. This was hard for me at times, but she never got impatient or rude. She reminded me about my strengths and all I loved about myself during a time of great stress. I was battling OCD, and to get me through that time I wrote in journals called encouragement books. When we were hanging out once, and I was upset, I told her I couldn’t find anything to love about myself. She was very kind and responded with, “Of course you do” and she grabbed my book and read my own words aloud with no judgment at all.
Jasmyn is very encouraging and is always reminding me to remember who I am. She never brings up my autism unless I’m insecure about it and she is telling me that she sees me for me and not my disability. She is very kind and has said things to me that I have kept with me because it has greatly improved my confidence. Over time I’ve caught myself being mean to me and I would stop myself because friends like Jasmyn wouldn’t treat me like that so I shouldn’t either, autism, or no autism.
Finally, I can’t leave this out. I have always struggled to see myself as strong and capable. I’ve overcome a lot but I am my own worst critic. Well, Jasmyn, who’s a wonderful artist, painted me as a warrior. This means more to me than I can put into words! It is a reminder I am not my disability, I am loved, and I am capable. It is my prized possession and I will treasure it always.
In conclusion, my best friend has shown me that there is more to me than a label, I am a wonderful friend with lots to offer, and I deserve to treat myself with love, kindness, and respect, as well as get treated that way by other people. So to Jasmyn, thank you for being my friend.
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