I wasn’t “like other girls” because I’m autistic.

Quote: “I had many friends… until adolescence. All at once, my idiosyncrasies became very uncool, almost overnight.” – Aspergirls

Being different

I know that it’s now on trend to mock the people who claim “I’m not like other girls”, but I think that having feelings of not being like other girls can be legitimate.

Growing up, I often felt very different from the girls around me. This feeling of being different and alien intensified upon entering puberty when my friends started becoming more interested in gossiping, boys, and fitting in with the cool kids.

On the other hand, I loathed gossip, feeling that it was immoral and shallow. I didn’t trust people who gossiped. If they gossiped about other people, why wouldn’t they gossip about me when my back was turned? I distinctly remember being a young teen and ranting in my diary about hating gossip and condemning people who gossip, which was basically every girl that I knew.

“I dislike gossiping. I rarely ever overhear girls having intellectual conversations… It’s almost always about people and/or events. If I were to try to have an intellectual conversation with my friends, they’d give me that “wtf” look that they often give me. Or they wouldn’t be that engaged in it..  I need more guy friends.” – April 9, 2010 (from one of my old private blogs when I was 16 years old)

I also didn’t understand the obsession with trying to fit in with the cool kids. I had no admiration for the cool kids, especially since they tended to be mean and snobby towards me. Seeing my friends trying to win the approval of the cool kids and ultimately succeeding felt like betrayal. Nearing the end of our elementary school years, they began treating me as if I were an embarrassment. In high school, they stopped associating with me.

In those years as a young teenager, I was absorbed in online games, self-taught web development, blogging, and philosophy. I was socially awkward, nerdy, and had no interest in conforming to fit in. As far as I knew, I was not like other girls.

Autistic girls and women often feel different

Recently, I read the books Aspergirls and Women and Girls with Autism Spectrum Disorder, and I found out that my experience as a teenager is common among autistic women (and likely other marginalized genders). It made me feel validated and less alone.

I will share some relevant quotes from the two books in the next few slides.

I had many friends… until adolescence. All at once, my idiosyncrasies became very uncool, almost overnight.” – Aspergirls

What also comes across from some of these women is a paradox that many people with ASD seem to struggle with: a contempt for the superficial content of the relationships of their peers, coupled with a desire to be accepted by those same peers.” – Women & Girls with ASD

I dislike other females; they are complicated and often boring. They rarely have the same interests and certainly not to the same degree. They gossip, judge people and talk crap a lot of the time. They put importance on things that don’t matter, like what someone wears, looks like, social status etc. They can be competitive, jealous and bitchy.” – Women & Girls with ASD

While the last quote may seem judgmental and harsh, I completely understand where it is coming from. I felt a very similar contempt towards my female peers when I was a teenager. I think these feelings are valid and often come from a place of pain – not fitting in, being the “weird one”, and not having friends that share your interests. This can be traumatic and breed feelings of resentment.

My teenage years were some of the loneliest and painful years for me. I felt alien and didn’t feel like I could connect with anyone, especially not with other girls. Back then, I didn’t know I was autistic, but I think it would have helped if I had been diagnosed as a young teen. To know there were others like me out there and to be able to connect with other autistic people would have eased my depression, at least a little bit.

Follow up post: Is feeling “not like other girls” just internalized misogyny?

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