I haven’t left the house for a couple of weeks (as in, no outside requirements, not sick or anything). It’s been awesome. I’ve been buzzing around in my head and there’s soooo much I want to do! (I have To Do lists of To Do lists. And I love it!)

So many exciting things are happening in my world, and any one of them would have turned past-me inside out fizzing. Actually, I think the only thing that stops me from turning inside out is knowing that there is still so much I want to do. Like if I pause it will all sink in, I’ll freak out and pull back. So I keep moving. Completely grateful, completely in awe of what is possible. I always dreamed of my days being filled with writing and writer-related happenings. But when I did that, I never really considered how much the business of writing is The Writer. Sure, lots of my work stands alone, books on pest control, construction training guides, ad slogans. But the work that I get to do now? The work in diversity / identity, my calling, guys, that work is beautiful, but it’s also kind of inextricable from me. Gulp.

Yes, there’s fear. And so much of the fear around putting work in the world is about putting me in the world. I don’t want to. I want to be invisible, an observer, I want to write as an outsider. It feels as scary to say, “ānei angiau” (this is me!) with a Twitter bio, as putting out an entire book or speech. Let alone using my name as a website address (who do you think you are?), having my picture taken (awkward ugly pointless), being on social media (why? no one cares what you do or say or think)… and it all comes back to taking up space. A need to justify my existence. A sense of not belonging here. Who am I to speak or write? Who am I to be? I never thought I’d live long enough to grow up. I didn’t want to be seen, I didn’t want to be noticed, and I definitely didn’t want to be seen as someone who wants to be seen.

But I get it. I hear what people say about me, I read what they write. The objective part of me gets it: the best of my work is me. When I am true and brave. When I let people in. And my weirdness, introverted extroversion, damage, and directness – it’s all part of the package. I need to feel that. I need to not flinch when I see my name, keep a straight face when I am introduced and they say all those super nice things about me. (But they’re true! Yeah, but I fought, I worked so hard, just because it’s true doesn’t make it you. Plus you don’t talk about your own awesomeness – are you even Māori?) I have to get comfortable being uncomfortable. Seems to be a theme for me. To make the kind of difference I want to make in the world I have to get on board with this dancing skeleton, this collection of cells, this CV of achievements, because my message is carried as much by my meat suit as my words.

I reckon this is a good start. Blogging away quietly in my (sensory-safe, work-from-home) corner of the Internet. Letting go of perfectionism, creating without a deadline or a destination. Not justifying my existence. Just being.

About the Author: Jolene Stockman

Jolene is an autistic writer, speaker, and parent. Since her 2018 TEDx Talk going public with her diagnosis, Jolene has been inspiring corporates, communities, and global giant IBM with her fresh and exciting perspective on autism.


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