By Mo Ors, 76. Gold Coast, QLD
Recently, when asked to think of just one word that represents a childhood memory of something I loved to do, the first thing that popped up was “dance”.
This started an uncontrollable rush of many memories that must have been buried deep inside my mind … in that locked box of intimate secrets.
I’ve always felt like an outsider: different, not belonging anywhere, non-conforming, thinking outside the square — which conjured up questions regarding life, the meaning of it, the purpose, and particularly, the greatest enigma of all that no one can explain and no one has ever been able to factually elaborate on and confirm: ETERNITY. It is much too difficult to comprehend what it actually means.
Scientists inform us that we’re made up of particles that are born and eventually die, just like the stars that twinkle in the sky. Science has been trying to convince us for ages that there’s no afterlife, and that we’ve evolved from apes.
Yet, most cultures and beliefs preach the opposite, asking us to believe in scriptures that promise an afterlife. And if we’re “good”, that we’ll earn the ultimate reward of going to paradise where everything will be fabulous forever. Alternatively, be reincarnated until we reach nirvana.
But no one has ever unquestionably proven that any of what we’re supposed to blindly believe is actually true; anyway, what does forever mean? What is eternity? Never ending. What is that? It’s just as inconceivable as the end and death!
Eternity has been something I’ve been thinking about since I was very young — while other children focused mainly on playing, having friends, school, sport, etc.
Music and dancing were my little haven where I felt more welcome. I could express my feelings in a way that was of comfort to me, and was occasionally appreciated by others who congratulated me on my performances at school concerts. This validated my compulsion of trying to excel and impress to feel accepted as an insider instead of always being the stranger: the outsider, the one that never quite fit in with a group of kids.
Often on my own, I used to pretend to be a famous dancer and singer, wishing that my future would fulfil my aspirations of great achievements and success. But most of all, longing to find a kindred soul who would share my thoughts and feelings. Wouldn’t it be amazing if someone — anyone — could share my ideas and opinions?
I have been able to achieve a fair bit over the years, so I’m told, although constantly plagued with self-doubt. I still believe that my thoughts and opinions are worth sharing with others who similarly search for answers as to the meaning of life, who long to find something that will shine a light on the enigma that eternity is.
Will there ever be an answer … an explanation?
A number of tragic episodes I’ve experienced and witnessed in my life have caused me to fear what may happen and I catastrophise everything. It’s a deeply disturbing and challenging aspect of such thought processes! I hate the feeling of not being in control!
What does forever mean? What is eternity? Never-ending. What is that? It’s just as inconceivable as the end and death!
Getting older now means that maybe others will take control and make decisions for me not with me. Although I hope this will never happen, it may be inevitable!
I don’t want to feel guilty anymore, or that I’m being selfish for following my innermost thoughts that don’t comply with what is expected. I was made to feel guilty about every thought, every action that did not conform to my strict upbringing.
While extremely sensitive to other people’s feelings, I prefer to withdraw into my own inner space rather than being subjected to what I feel is controlled or ridiculed.
People don’t know how to handle my bluntness. Upsetting is definitely not intended, but I no longer want to feel gagged and restricted. This is who I am. I’m just as important as anyone else!
Mental health professionals often identify a variety of similar symptoms under the the conditions of anxiety and depression, and prescribe usually-effective techniques such as CBT, exposure, or hypnotherapy. Unfortunately, many of those therapies don’t help enough in the long term, although admittedly, if practiced continuously, are useful for a short period of time. So I decided that the best way to help myself was to keep searching for the right answer.
EUREKA! I finally found out that I identify with many people.
Do you have any idea how liberating it is to realise that I’m not odd, just a bit different? So many people have now come to the deeply satisfying revelation of being diagnosed with a condition that means we finally belong somewhere.
Welcome to the world of neurodiversity!
We’re in very good company!
Sir Anthony Hopkins, Woody Allen, Tim Burton, Alfred Hitchcock, Stanley Kubrick, Albert Einstein, Darwin, Newton, Nikola Tesla, Mozart, Beethoven, Robbie Williams, Lewis Carroll, George Orwell, H G Wells, Emily Dickinson, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Andy Warhol, etc …
Actor Sir Anthony Hopkins was interviewed in 2017 by the Daily Mail about his late-in-life autism diagnosis.
“I don’t go to parties,” he said. “I don’t have many friends. But I do like people. I do like to get inside their heads. I definitely look at people differently. I like to deconstruct, to pull a character apart, to work out what makes them tick. And my view will not be the same as everyone else”.
With increased diagnosis of neurodivergence amongst adults and better understanding of the nuances in the different conditions, hopefully public appreciation will follow.
As for myself, I now feel validated within a very large group of mostly high achievers who don’t always conform, who just think and behave a bit differently. But all just as important and of value as anyone else.
I’m okay now to say yes that’s me. I respect you the way you are, respect me for who I am.
No one is perfect. What a boring old world it would be if we were all the same!
Photo of Anthony Hopkins by Rich Fury/Getty Images, for Vanity Fair.