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Self-Advocacy

A question that often plagues my mind in my day-to-day life is: How can I advocate for myself and my needs, without feeling or seeming selfish?
Say I'm at work, and the lights are too bright. Luckily, at my office, the lights can be dimmed and the color temperature can be changed. This is great, unless everyone else in the office seem satisfied leaving them on their brightest setting. Even though I may be really struggling with how bright the lights are, and can feel distracted and overwhelmed by them, I hold myself back from saying anything. Or if I'm at a music event and it starts getting too loud, I will resist the urge to cover my ears for fear of being perceived like I'm seeking attention, even though loud sound is my number one trigger for meltdowns.
Perhaps it's because of my late diagnosis, and I've had ample time to mask and hide my differences. I'm used to putting my own needs aside in order to "fit in," to not "rock the boat." But sometimes, I really do want to stand up and say "This is what I need! Please comply so I won't feel stressed!" This is not realistic. This is what would label me a "weirdo." And this is why I feel selfish.

Another question that comes to mind is: How can I advocate for myself, if no one will believe me? Is it worth sharing my experiences, if they're always shrugged off as a "normal" thing? It's incredibly isolating, after opening up and being honest with someone, to then be not believed. It's like a slap to the face. To be vulnerable is not easy by any means, and I wish it was rewarded with more trust and compassion. Instead I hear "Well, everyone feels that way sometimes," or "You must be exaggerating, you're fine!" While I always try to give people the benefit of the doubt and believe they're trying to show support, I can't help but feel like they're gas-lighting me. It's like they're saying, "No, you aren't experiencing autistic symptoms. You're not autistic. You are making this up for attention." This naturally makes me shrink and not want to share my struggles, until the next time I'm truly desperate to be understood--by anyone.

Do you share these feelings? Let's get a discussion going. :)

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Author
Bana_Boona
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