When The Thing You Can’t Do Is The Thing You Must Do

Landscape of a smooth lake with a person jumping in.
Is there something you want to do, but part of you says you can't? I'd like to talk about that.

What are you yearning for?

What’s one thing you’re excited, intrigued, or have been dreaming about, that’s physically possible for you to do, and that you’ve been stopping yourself from doing?

I’d like to talk to that part of you that says you can’t. Why can’t you? Is there fear? A practical barrier? I’m asking without judgment or shame; it’s a genuine question.

What if accepting uncertainty is why I must do it, because I need that personal growth?

What if the reason that you’ve been telling yourself that you can’t do it, is instead the reason that you must try?

Instead of, “I can’t unmask because no one will accept me,” what if it’s, “I must unmask because people already aren’t accepting this masked me?” What if it’s, “I need to find out who will accept the real me.”

Instead of, “I can’t take the plunge without absolute certainty it will work out,” what if it’s “I must take the plunge?” What if accepting uncertainty is why I must do it, because I need that personal growth?

For me, about a year ago, I was afraid to share more about myself and my life on social media, because I was scared that it’s not safe in the world for people like me, because someone may use that stuff against me someday, because identity theft is real.

But as I turned it around in this way, I realized that I needed to use my privilege to prepare the way for other Autistics, and to show Autistics and NDs who are struggling in the way that I was just a few years ago, that a better life is possible. I needed to live with less fear of what might happen, because sharing my story will allow others who need to hear it the opportunity to do so; a gift that I didn’t get when I was in that phase of my life.

Is this a perfect scenario? Nope. Will there be times when it backfires? Possibly. Can I handle it? Yes.

It’s been about a year now since I’ve been more active on YouTube, Twitter, and Mastodon, and have done a couple of interviews, sharing more of my story in various ways. I’m cautious not to give out private info that could lead to identity theft, but I remind myself that it’s not all or nothing.

I can share some things and not everything. I can hold back some things and not everything. In the past, I was either a closed book or far too open with people, and neither was comfortable (or safe) for me or others. But I’m experimenting and learning how to keep myself safe in a fluid, ever-changing middle path. Is this a perfect scenario? Nope. Will there be times when it backfires? Possibly. Can I handle it? Yes. I can handle it better than I ever could before, and I’m getting better every year.

What else can you handle better now than you could in the past?

By the way, be careful not to use this idea to talk yourself into staying in abusive or toxic situations, hurting yourself, or accepting injustice. This is about doing things that you really, truly want, but are talking yourself out of for reasons that may not be as relevant as they once were, or as much as your anxiety thinks they are.

So, what growth edge are you ready for, that may seem scary, but also intriguing and exciting?

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Heather Cook

Heather Cook

Hi, I’m Heather. I’m an Autistic writer, advocate, and life coach, and I'm building a life I love. I help other Autistics to build their own autism-positive life. I love reading, jigsaw puzzles, just about every -ology, and Star Trek!

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