“”Don’t walk behind me; I may not lead. Don’t walk in front of me; I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend.”
I don’t like the seniors’ class motto. Walking next to me is not a friendly act. People do it so we can have a conversation, certainly. But if we’re out in public, I’m trying not to get lost. I don’t have the mental bandwidth to navigate and talk to someone at the same time.
Even worse, people who want to walk beside me often insist on walking on my left-hand side. I don’t notice a lot of things on my left. What they experience as “not looking me in the eye” or “not being friendly,” I experience as “someone’s sneaking up on me.”
When I see the senior class motto on its felt banner at school assemblies, I know I’m being silly. My mother’s voice chides me in my head: “You have NLD and are being literal. It’s not talking about actually leading or following, or walking next to people. It’s a metaphor.” I know it’s a metaphor. That’s why it bothers me.