I would have built robots

When I was little I wanted to make robots. I was going to be an inventor. Robots were the future, they were going to be everything, and I was going to design them.

I’d spend ages drawing pictures of different tin-cans with claws and wheels and springs.

I remember being frustrated that I didn’t know how to put them together. I didn’t know how to create.

Whenever any appliance broke, I would ask if I could have a screwdriver and a hammer and take it apart.

It’s an adorable image, isn’t it? A small girl in her turquoise t-shirt dress with boats on it (labels secretly removed by her with the scissors she wasn’t allowed to use) sat at the kitchen table, carefully taking apart a toaster. Trying to find its secrets in the hopes that it would help her make robots.

Legs dangling from the chair. Chin barely above the table top. Bird’s nest hair a crumpled, tumbling heap, as she sticks her tongue out in concentration.

But the secrets weren’t in the toaster. I found the filaments. I found the wires. I could see it was just a fancy lightbulb after all. No one could answer my questions. My adorableness quickly faded with my squirrelling of anything that looked vaguely robotic.

So I hid in books instead. I found freedom in adventure. Cynical and sarcastic on the outside, on the inside I was swashbuckling with an unquenchable lust for adventure. Science fiction and fantasy were my go-tos. Worlds where I would have built robots.

I found a new love in writing. At first I would read my work to everyone who sat still within earshot. Then more than one person told me that I was lying, that it wasn’t my work. So I stopped telling my stories and kept them for me. How do you convince people your words belong to you?

Then I grew up. I was told to get a proper job. I was told writing is a hobby. I listened.

And I worked. Instilled deep within me is the judgement that not having a proper career is shameful. So I took any job that would have me. No one would tell me what I should do. No one wanted me to write or build robots.

I lost my soul to office-life. I had none of the tools for it. I still don’t. For all my rationalising and problem solving, for all my hard work, I am not a person when I’m in an office.

I crafted a close approximation of a person. She wore makeup and straightened her bird’s nest hair, so that people would believe she was real.

Work is important. So I stayed and I stayed and I stayed. Until one day I couldn’t talk anymore.

I wasn’t building robots.

I wasn’t writing books.

I couldn’t even sit at a desk and exist.

Everything imploded at once. My private life, my work life, my social life. It all came crashing down. And I couldn’t think to plan ahead.

There’s a liberty that comes when everything is broken. There’s a freedom of purpose.

I discovered that, after years of thinking I was cynical and jaded, I was actually a romantic optimist, naive to the point of ridiculousness.

It’s not easy knowing who you are when you’re autistic. We all fall into the traps of letting other people define us.

I’m not sure I’ll ever get to the point of designing robots, but that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t be who I am. I’ve tried being that other person, and she’s miserable.

I should have built robots.

27 thoughts on “I would have built robots

  1. I was once told that the biggest stress is not being the person you are supposed to be. I was so confused, because how the hell was I supposed to even know who I was supposed to be! Ah, if only I’d known then… Xx

    Liked by 2 people

  2. You can build robots. Or write. Or write how to build robots and how they act in your world. If you don’t know how at Barnes and Noble and (and maybe other places if you ask Google) they have different kinds of kits to build different kinds of robots. It can inspire you. You have to live with you so make yourself happy.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. But … but you ARE writing.
    Beautiful pieces of writing like this one above.
    And I love this. It reminds me of someone … all these devices taken apart and evenly spread on the kitchen table. There once was an inquiring mind … *sigh* – hope yours is still alive!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you 😊

      My mind never stops asking questions. I never understood people who didn’t enjoy three year olds asking questions all the time. They ask the best questions!

      We need to feed that investigative side.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Oh Rhi, I can feel the pain, especially in your last sentence, and the music I’m listening right now, makes me nearly cry…
    What should I say?
    I’d rather keep quiet, just sitting here with you, on your little pile of thoughts.
    And I know it sounds cliché, but know you’re not alone…
    We’re here…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, you are very lovely. Sometimes I do feel despair at the time that I’ve wasted trying to be someone I can never be.

      But then I remember that I still have a lifetime ahead of me, and no matter how short or long that is, there are endless opportunities. Even if some of those opportunities just involve sitting and folding some paper flowers for a while. They are still little moments of living.

      And then there’s connecting with wonderful strangers. That’s a whole new world too.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. I can’t work or provide for myself. I tried to work-what American society defines as having a “meaningful and productive life”. Our culture is defined by what we do and how much stuff we buy with what we make. God loves us regardless of who we are. He knew about each one of us before we we were born. He wants us to live to please Him and trust Him. His Word says that if we seek Him that he will provide us with what we need. I never knew what I wanted to be and still couldn’t make out a career as my sensory processing dictates my life. I enjoy taking pictures and making stretch bracelets whether or not I earn money. I wonder how God is working through the talents He gave to me. Good post.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Reblogged this on Under Your Radar and commented:
    These sorts of regrets show up all the time… but it’s never too late to turn the tide and just go in the direction you love — especially if everything’s broken, anyway. You can just do . Just to it. And you needn’t tell another soul… unless you want to.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I, too, was pushed into a career that was practical. I ended up being a computer programmer/analyst. Although I was good at the actual work, I couldn’t stand the office environment, neither physically nor socially. I hated the corporate environment, the cut throat back stabbing social climbers, and the dull gray and taupe cubicle maze. Now I’m an artist. I don’t make any money, but I’m much happier.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Hi Rhi,

    Thank you so much for your posts/beautiful writing. They are moving and thought provoking. I am very blessed to be the mother of an autistic son, he has touched my heart and soul and caused me to grow in a way that no other person has. Because of my son I am a mother and creative thinker and my heart has been split wide open as together he and I experience a roller coaster of emotions in our relationship and family life. He has been the best gift and challenge. His sister and I may be nin-autistic and understand each other’s emotional language more fluently, but with my son the richness of bridging our different wiring is unsurpassed in it’s soul deep joy. I agree, in no way do I want my son “cured”, why would I, he is amazing just as he is; funny, kind, a comedian and with a beautiful heart. What I want is to help fill him with confidence in his autistic self and the value of that so that he keeps this solid sense of self throughout his life. I want support for him to reach his potential at his own pace. Really what every mother wants for any child, or any person wants for them self. My son, at 8 years old, speaks about himself as specially wired and shares an ease of friendship with other specially wired kids but also is popular and has good non-autistic friends. I was with my autistic ex-husband throughout his assessment and diagnosis process as an adult of 47. He cried with relief when he understood that he was autistic and that was ok and that he was of equal value. I agree there is very little post -diagnosis support, particularly for adults post-diagnosis. We need to change this.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s comments like this that fill me full of hope. Thank you for sharing your story with me.

      It just goes to show the difference a supportive family and environment can make. You sound like a lovely family who genuinely appreciate and accept each other just the way you are. Lovely.

      You’ve made my day.


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