Desert Island Discs (Part 1)
For those of you who haven't been introduced to the delights of Desert Island Discs, a radio interview show on BBC Radio 4, here's the lowdown. A renowned guest is invited to share 8 pieces of music that they would take if stranded on a desert island. Through these pieces of music and the accompanying interview, the listener gets to know the guest and their life story, as well as hearing their choice of music and the single book and 'luxury' item they would take as well.
I love the format of the show and it's been going strong for 75 years on British radio. So I'm going to do a Desert Island Discs, but for my life relating to autism. All the tracks will be related to my experience of autism in some way. Since you get to choose 8 tracks on the show, I will take them one at a time and tell the story of each one. So here goes!
(Give the song a second to load!)
1. Stole The Show by Kygo
When I thought about songs relating to my life in terms of autism, this was the first one I thought of. I have a very specific memory that this song brings back, and it makes me happy whenever I think of it.
It was the end of summer 2015 and I had been researching autism for a couple of months. I was coming to accept my self-diagnosis and was considering getting a professional diagnosis. It was early evening, still light and warm (a rare pleasure for the UK) and I was on my way to pick up my date. We'd been seeing each other for a few weeks and were going for our first dinner together. I was nervous when I stepped out of my front door in a patterned shift dress and leather jacket and decided to listen to some music on the walk to my date's house, about fifteen minutes away. The walk wound through residential streets set back from the main road and the low sunlight gave the surrounding houses a contented, mellow feeling. I like a lot of Kygo's remixes; they fill me with a summery lightness and make me feel better about the world. As I was nearing his house, Stole The Show came on shuffle, and as the chorus began I felt the urge to dance. I looked around the quiet, tree-lined street. There was nobody around. Still, I felt self-conscious. I stopped myself from dancing and carried on walking.
I considered why I hadn't let myself do what I wanted. It was embarrassing, I'd draw attention to myself, I'd be doing something 'different', something that other people might consider strange. And then I thought, if I'm autistic, my brain IS different. I've spent my whole life trying not to do anything 'strange' and to fit in. But maybe I wasn't made to fit in.
The chorus came round again. I allowed myself a awkward little bob along to the song. It felt so good to move to the music that I carried on. And suddenly I felt a huge wave of joy and self-acceptance. It was my first real understanding of the idea that I could stop trying so hard to be like everybody else. I could dance down the street, I could be 'weird'. It felt like the freedom of the possibility of being true to myself was exploding out of me. I carried on dancing until I reached the road my date lived on, partly out of self-consciousness and partly because it's harder to dance up steep hill. But the memory of that evening has stuck with me. It opened up a world of potential and whenever I hear it now, it reminds me to be myself, and fuck what anyone else thinks.