I have always felt different. As a child I thought I was different because I was shy, or because I wore boy's clothes, or because I was not interested in girly things. In high school I thought I was different because I came from the wrong side of town, or because I had crushes on the other girls and not on boys like my friends.
In my twenties I thought I was different because I was gay. Then I came out the closet and made friends with other gay people and I realised that I was unlike them as well... in may ways. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed being around other gay people, but there was still a niggling sense that I was different from them too.
So, in my thirties I decided I must be different because of my politics. I was different because I was an anarchist and I saw the world through a different political and social lens. I thought this might be it, but I still didn't really, really know why I felt so very different to others.
In my forties, after a long and arduous journey through messy relationships and taxing work environments, not ideally suited to me, that I finally realised that I am different because I have Asperger's syndrome. What a journey! What a relief!
Most people start understanding themselves earlier on in life. For me it's been a much longer, slower journey. I spent a lot of time in relationships where I just became a chameleon. I became whoever my partner was. Time and again. (This characteristic is typical of many Aspergirls ie women with Aspergers or high functioning autism. (Ref: Rudi Simone, Aspergirls, book.)
I have finally arrived at the point where I feel I understand myself. I am centred. I am happy to the core. I embrace my shortcomings, my need for order and routine, my sensory difficulties, my need for time out and many other little preferences are all fine by me now. It's who I am.