November 17, 2020

I used to adore the aesthetic of orphanhood. I didn’t actually want to lose my family, but was captivated by stories of young girls who made their own way in the world, roaming freely in tattered dresses. I read orphan stories nearly every day, and invented my own as I drifted off to sleep. I even asked my parents for permission to run away from home for a few days, but they wisely said no.

After college, I began to prefer stories of princesses, especially ones who live alone in a tower. That was where my imagination would go anytime I felt anxious, and I wanted so much to make it come true. Eventually, I found a skinny little castle on Airbnb, exactly like my fantasy, and rented it all by myself for three days. That temporary escape filled me with peace, wonder, and a deep sense of safety.

What caused the shift? Why did I want to spend my childhood wandering cobblestone streets, then suddenly prefer to be stuck in a castle?

They are two different kinds of empowerment.

Before the independence of adulthood, I felt empowered by the idea of going anywhere I liked. After the responsibility of adulthood, I felt empowered by the idea of hiding from emails and errands.

I used to wish for infinite space. Now, I wish for infinite time.

P.S. I write from my personal experience as an autistic. What I share is not a substitute for advice from an autistic medical professional. Also, some of my opinions have changed since I first wrote them.