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Greta Thunberg in US
courtesy of Instagram/@gretathunberg

Greta Thunberg: ‘Being different is a superpower’

The teen climate activist speaks about having Asperger’s and how her activism has helped

Earlier this week (August 29) Greta Thunberg landed in New York following a 15 day, zero-carbon voyage across the Atlantic. That was just the latest example of her environmental action, though. Her other protests – such as inspiring international school strikes and addressing world leaders – have galvanised many in the face of a climate emergency, but have also had their detractors (ofc).

However, the Swedish 16 year old has dealt with her critics – mostly middle-aged men – with much more maturity than they’ve shown themselves, proving that right-wing attacks won’t stop her.

Most recently, she’s taken to Instagram to comment on how she’s been targeted for being different, why being different is often a “superpower”, and how protesting has helped her overcome her difficulties.

“When haters go after your looks and differences, it means they have nowhere left to go,” she writes in the caption to an image of her completing her voyage to the US. “And then you know you’re winning!”

The climate activist then goes on to talk more about having Asperger’s syndrome than she has in the past. Besides writing that “being different is a superpower”, she explains: “I'm not public about my diagnosis to ‘hide’ behind it, but because I know many ignorant people still see it as an ‘illness’, or something negative.”

“ diagnosis has limited me before. Before I started school striking I had no energy, no friends and I didn’t speak to anyone. I just sat alone at home, with an eating disorder.”

Now, though, she suggests that her activism has helped her to find a purpose and live a fuller, healthier life. “All of that is gone now,” she writes, “since I have found a meaning, in a world that sometimes seems meaningless to so many people.”

Thunberg’s trip to America follows a journey around Europe, on which she addressed crowds and led demonstrations. She’ll join large-scale climate demonstrations in the US on September 20 and 27, then speak at the United Nations Climate Action Summit in New York.