I Am Proud to Be Different

Thursday, April 11, 2013

So today was interesting, I had a superb conversation at work today. This particular coworker was really upset at another coworker. He came to me, I believe in an attempt to make allies and I was pleasantly surprised by the outcome. He considered this coworker very lazy, among other things. I mentioned that this "lazy coworker" simply needed a bit of patience and instruction because he is different. In reality, he is like me. I don't know this coworker's medical history, and I didn't claim to know what is going on, but he does show symptoms similar to mine. He doesn't have Tourette Syndrome, but there is something along the same spectrum, and I was surprised when I realized that this frustrated coworker couldn't see it. I can see it just by looking at him that there is something unique going on. The upset coworker just thought of him like anyone else, and was shocked when I told him what I saw. He didn't realize that people on this spectrum can be as high-functioning as my coworker and myself.

I explained my condition a bit more, that I have a neurological disorder that is on the same spectrum as autism and asperger's. I know I am high-functioning, and I can hide most differences. Most people only see (or rather hear) my tics, but there is something different in my brain and how it works. I don't see it as bad, though I don't always see it as good, either. It is what I make it and how I use it. I have 7 years of practice on this coworker of learning social rules (which my parents can tell you I have come a long way) and being able to function like I do. It was hard at times. For the most part, I was just blessed and lucky.

Even now, having this experience, I feel blessed to be in a position to explain. I was the first to point out to this upset coworker that something was different and that he might have been out of line. I didn't even tell him he was out of line. He knew that on his own once I told him. Most people don't talk about these differences. It's taboo. It isn't "politically correct" or "nice" to point out how people are different. It's almost like it is a bad thing. I simply point out things that are in common and explain a bit more in depth about who I am and my situation. I am different, and it's awesome. Trust me, I spent an entire semester analyzing the advantages of having TS and how it affects communication. I don't see these advantages being limited to simply Tourette Syndrome. It can be any quirk or difference, from being gay to cancer. I am the one who deals with it every day. I am the expert on what it is like to live with TS, so why should someone else tell me it is sad that I have it, even though I enjoy it, or how my brain works, when I am the only one inside my head?

The results are stunning when this is put into practice. The entire countenance of this frustrated coworker changed, and rather quickly. He realized he had come down very hard on this coworker and vowed to change, showing more patience towards this coworker who was no longer seen for his negative qualities of being "lazy and inconsiderate," but rather as a human being with struggles, just like the rest of us. Me having Tourette Syndrome makes a difference after all. I get to humanize others simply by explaining, not what is going on in their head, but by explaining my own life and what it is like inside my head. I am grateful that I can share inspiring stories, as well as the humorous ones that this blog was started for. As funny as they are, each is an opportunity to change another person's thinking forever. I am a life changer and I can't help it.


Monday, April 8, 2013

Parties are my favorite. I love being surrounded by awesome people and enjoying their company and getting to know new friends. Especially when new friends get to experience my "alternate personality" AKA Tourette Syndrome. At a recent birthday party for my friend Breanna, I happened to be ticking quite actively.Very few knew what was going on, and the rest didn't have much reaction... that is, until Garrett piped up. After one particularly loud tic, he turned to me and asked,

"Is that your mating call?"

At this point, the few who knew what was going on burst into laughter. I laughed so much I couldn't breathe as he continued,

"Because it's working."

This has to be one of my top favorite reactions, right up there with Alex Denney's song.

Apparently as I continued to tic, he turned to Warren and asked why I do that. Warren explained and apparently Garrett felt really bad. I wish he wouldn't, since it is one of my favorite memories and a great story to tell!! People like this make me happy. People are a favorite, too. And somehow I attract the most awesome people in my life, I just can't help it. :)
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