Feeling like strangers in a strange land
Where to start with describing this frequent feeling among autistic folks?
In discussion groups on forums and Facebook pages and other media it is so frequent that an autistic person will describe feeling like an outsider, like they don’t belong, as if they were born in the wrong time and or place. Many equate this feeling with being alien and from another world and deeply believe in their difference from others but until diagnosis are lost to understand why this feeling exists within them.
There is another version of this feeling lost and like we don’t belong which happens to newly diagnosed adults. We may question the diagnosis, may feel like it is all wrong, doesn’t fit.
We question whether the diagnosis is real or all a huge mistake.
The feeling is “imposter syndrome”, which is an actual label given to a very common experience among not only autistic folk, but neurotypical individuals as well.
Imposter syndrome seems to be caused by lack of confidence in one’s situation. We feel it when we have continual experiences or worries that we are not accepted, not understood, are doing “things” wrong or badly. Reality may be that we are doing just fine, but our self perceptions are of failing or being about to fail due to being inadequate in skills or poorly prepared for what we are doing or attempting to do.
Autistic reality and reported experiences of older autistic adults gives us frequent feedback to confirm that this feeling is often justified and is considered part of our autistic reality.
We really do live in places where we are frequently misunderstood, where we fail to communicate, where things are difficult to understand, and we often have difficulty knowing or understanding what is expected or considered correct in interacting with others .
It is no surprise that autistic folk feel this frequently and sometimes adopt being “alien” as part of their personality or the structure of their culture.