Originally posted Sept 29th, 5:18 pm
I have Asperger’s syndrome which basically means that I see the world with less filters than normal, leading to sensory overload and being overwhelmed by ideas and information. Since I was a child, I’ve coped with this by creating my own inner world consisting of reading,pondering, and identifying abstract patterns in the world, where I’d retreat to when the world got too confusing and overwhelming. I’d have obsession with particular topics and amass information to use this as a shield when going out into the world. I take things literal so jokes and sarcasm usually go over my head and I often ask what the person means exactly. I have strict routines like where I put my stuff, where I sit in a vehicle, cleaning, – and these act like a buffer between me and the outside world, like an exoskeleton. It gives me a sense of control and peace of mind. That’s why abrupt changes can be disastrous to me. I seem very naive because I don’t have nuanced filters through which I judge the world, so bad experiences don’t change my perception of what I deem as the truth. I’m oblivious to how I come across to others, unless I explicitly ask. I hate injustice and being misunderstood, with such fervour. I have a very low pain threshold. I don’t think in words, I think in 3D images which is why it’s difficult for me to keep eyecontact with another because I can’t process what’s being said and keep eyecontact at the same time. I usually look away to an empty spot to piece my thoughts together like a game of Tetris.
Only I can take the appropriate measures to care for my wellbeing and being self-compassionate, and for the majority of my life I was afraid of being assertive. I thought if I was nice enough, people would leave me alone. I don’t know why passive aggressiveness and emotional manipulation is the norm where instead of each taking care of themselves, they have to work for approval and be paid in having needs fulfilled. Anyway, as I became an adult I became increasingly isolated because being around unpredictable and passive aggressive folks was enough to bring my sensory system to a screeching halt.
My laptop is my comfort and my lifeline. I feel anxious if anyone wants to borrow it for a while. And I have to know exactly for how long so that I can set my brain like a timer, and zone out until the time runs out. If I’m going somewhere new I have to have the exact visuals of the destination, exactly like a GPS to be reassured. I basically have to engineer my own systems and laws from scratch, as this world doesn’t aaccommodatefor people like me. Aspie girls are better off than boys, socially, because their symptoms are way more subtle and their social skills much better. I actually studied social cues and etiquettes when I was 17. I’d observe and study people around me in different settings and jot down my findings in my diary. I ended up being so well-versed that I often remind my mum of social etiquettes she might overlook. I can’t feign stuff, so I’m very straightforward which gets uncomfortable for some. But I’ve found a way to offset that by using my extreme intuition to pick up on microexpressions that let’s me know what the person is thinking, so as to assuage their hurt or apologize for a mistake I did. This is way easier on me than having to walk on eggshells and bite my tongue.
Anyway, me coming out this far out of my comfort zone and braving unknown experiences by meeting new people is only possible because I’ve thrown away the social norm crutch. I just do me, which means being unusually pedantic about my stuff at times or calling someone out on an injustice, and I give myself the freedom to retreat at the slightest discomfort. That way I don’t have to obsess about what-ifs. I’m only pedantic when it comes to things that are within my boundaries, but I’m very very flexible and gracious with others. It might seem like a paradox, but because I’m so comfortable in my own skin, I can be comfortable with others as opposed to expecting others to tend to my needs.
Witnessing my meltdowns or being on the other end of my frustration is not a nice thing, but I always come around when I calm down to apologize.
But I’m still a big, walking sore thumb. I’m a social alien and many don’t know what to make of my confident eccentricity. But I like to believe that in standing in my truth, I enable others to do the same. And if I have no other impact in this world than being the eccentric kind genius, then that’s a worthy legacy. A legacy of vulnerability and authenticity.