I went round to give my boyfriend a hand with some DIY this morning and he invited me in for a natter, as he wasn’t ready to start yet. So 10 minutes in, I begin getting twitchy. Why? I’m looking out of the window at a gorgeous blue sky. I can feel the heat through the window. It’s not that I don’t want to be doing DIY on a Sunday…but I just want to get it over with so I can get out in the sun!
It’s a common thing with me, bordering on an obsession. The sun is out, so I must be too. I can’t bear to miss a drop of it, whether I’m sat on the beach, walking in the wilds or pottering in the garden…I just have to be out in it. While some people on the spectrum find the sun uncomfortable, I am the total opposite! It makes me feel energized, alive…the hot sun feels like an all over body massage. It infuriates my boyfriend, when we go out and I will insist on crossing the road to walk on the sunny side of the street, or move to a different bench that isn’t in the shade. If I don’t, I feel like I’ve wasted the day. I feel this deep unease at being in the shade. FOMOOS – Fear of missing out on SUN! My neighbours are used to seeing me soaking up the sun in my bikini on a hot day, and will often remark ‘you don’t half get some sun!’
Okay, it IS an obsession. And today I realised why. So lockdown has ended. I go for my evening walk on the park and that lovely peace and quiet we’ve experienced over the last 9 weeks has gone. It has been replaced by large groups of youths who congregate on the greens, with bottles of beer, playing frisbee and chatting loudly while music blares from a portable speaker. And I feel a sense that I missed out. In my teens and twenties, on a sunny day I would have killed to be able to lounge around outside working on my tan just as they are doing, letting loose and enjoying myself, but I wasn’t part of that crowd. They would have been the same crowd that shunned me because I was weird and awkward. But even though I’m a pretty social person now, the thought of being sat amongst such a large group of young people fills me with anxiety. Their way of interacting just seems so shambolic. It makes no sense. It’s just like an alien culture that I have accepted I will never belong to.
But there is strength in numbers. And it always felt generally frowned upon to sit and sunbathe as a solo person. In much the same way that if you’re a single woman and you are alone in a bar, you will get hassle from people – namely blokes who see you as an easy target, and automatically assume you’ll be glad for their company. Or groups of youths who make fun of you for being a bit awkward. As a socially anxious aspie, I quickly learned that going out to enjoy the nice weather was a luxury that was denied to people like me. Many days I sat looking out of the window, dreaming of being out in the beautiful warm sun. Or sat with people who preferred to be in the shade, while I longed to be in the heat. Or covered myself up in black clothing because I was scared of male attention. So many wasted summers.
Getting my dog changed everything. Now I have a reason to be outside. And she loves being in the sun just as much as I do. Since she entered my life 5 years ago, she has built my confidence up so much, and I no longer care what other people think. Friends who know my love of the heat are perplexed as to why I never go holidaying in hot countries and simply it’s because without my dog, I would not be able to enjoy myself. Thanks to my dog, I can make the most of my summers, and I have a lot of lost time to make up for. The sun shines brighter now that she is in my world.