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Being Authentic

Being Authentic

By Dr. Dan L. Edmunds

I encountered a fellow lad who is Autistic. He told me he struggled with fitting in and sometimes prayed to be ‘normal’. He felt many judged him as weird or eccentric. He at times felt lonely and isolated. He was often lacking in confidence. We first began in our dialogue to see if he could identify his strengths and what he may be passionate about. I came to realize he was quite a talented musician but felt his talent was ignored because of misconceptions related to Autism.

He laid out what appeared to be a timeline of when he felt he had to accomplish certain things in his life. We explored where these conceptions arose from and he later acknowledged that it was contrived, a false social construct of what one must do and be. He felt he was always making comparisons to others and never matching up to what this imagined idea of being normal. However, has the so called normal person resolved anything or have they simply repressed thoughts and feelings and adapted to oppression?

There are those who are alone and feel lonely. There are also many people with many others around them but the relationships they have are superficial and inwardly they feel alone. There are those who may go alone in nature, but are mindful, aware. They find peace in their solitude. What this lad was seeking was to be able to be radically authentic, to be rather than have to do it particularly have to do for others to feel embraced and validated. He needed to find his niche.

As we discussed further what he said, maybe if I discover but one or a few genuine interactions I may actually be better off than the many who appear glamorous and successful but lack substance. He was seeking employment and filled his mind with all the thoughts of why he would be rejected and no suitable work would happen. I expressed how we at times torment ourselves by our thoughts about situations rather than being tormented by the situation. Shortly after he told me he was hired, he was elated and stated verbatim what I had mentioned to him about his thoughts and doubts. He decided to expand on his musical interest and talent and he found some connections here.

He had related that he did at one time have a serious intimate relationship that lasted for some time. He had been filling his mind with how he could not connect or be accepted at all. I asked him what had initially brought him into that relationship and he thought for a time that is was a shared humour they possessed that drew them together. So, I noted, indeed he was capable of forging connection, it just needed to be the authentic ones. As we parted the one particular day I shared some humour and he likewise and stated how he was focusing on reframing, of seeing himself in a better way, and that he had no need to be normal, he just needed to be, to be authentic, to embrace his difference and the differences of others.

Dr. Dan L. Edmunds is a self advocate. He completed undergraduate studies at the University of Florida with major in Comparative Religion and minor in Sociology. He received a Master of Arts in Theology from the University of Scranton and earned a Doctorate of Education in Community Counseling from Argosy University. He has served 22 years as a Behavioral Health Counselor.

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