In an old workplace chock full of neurodivergent and neurotypical people not too long ago, it had to be further explained to everybody what “authentic self” meant, specifically in response to comments left on open walls meant for writing thoughts and reactions on.

Some folks had taken the stance that expressing intolerance of others’ statements was bringing their authentic self. I don’t think they really thought much about the impact of what they wrote. You can’t just write “lol” at the end of a sentence and make it right, but some sure seemed to think so.

When counselors say we should bring our authentic selves, it has little meaning to me as just those words. Judging from that experience above, I think everyone struggles with drawing a line between how much authentic self that you bring should be expressed or amplified. Bringing all of yourself to a situation doesn’t mean revealing all of it to everyone. Nobody gets a pass on that.

To be part of a society or social gathering or community, everybody (NTs and NDs alike) has to be selective about the parts of themselves they share. It can be (and often is) harder for NDs to read the room, know how to act, or be able to actually succeed in doing it. But it’s certainly not just us that struggle with socialization, either.