Phrases like “at first glance” are fairly embedded into our lexicon. How often you hear that may vary depending on which region you live in, but I think it’s pretty safe to say that we’ve all heard it.
What about “at second glance”? I don’t know about you, but if I’ve ever heard anyone say that, it was probably me. And it was probably a long time ago, if ever.
Anything beyond a second glance? Fugeddaboutit. Not likely to happen.
My Aspie-wired brain says that that’s unfortunate, because it goes to show just how shallow and superficial our society is by nature. (Yep, even including myself, and I’d like to think that I contemplate more often and more deeply than the average bear.)
After seeing this description (link to a post on an excellent blog, The Third Glance), I’ve come to realize that there’s a need for not one, not two, but three glances in order to get a more complete, accurate picture, especially when we’re referring to Aspie/autistic people.
At least, I need this personally. (Very personally.)
Inspired by the post linked to above, I wrote about my own perspective.
Someone’s first impression of me might be of a semi-unkept person who looks at the ground a lot. I’m probably not talking to anyone unless I’m with my partner. I’m wearing the same jeans and comfortable shirt that I have for weeks (washed in the meantime), and my hair is probably less than perfect. I might look stern or unhappy, even if I’m not (and I’m probably not).
Say “hi” to me, and you’ll see a wry smile. I’ll probably say “hi” back. You might even get eye contact, but usually only for a fleeting moment. Start talking to me, and you’ll see that I don’t make small talk very well. I’m probably pretty uncomfortable and unsure of myself for a while. I never know what to say, so I might say too little, or maybe too much, followed by a nervous laugh and a sheepish look. (And if you’re watching closely enough, maybe a “stim” movement, which, up until now, might have been suppressed.) If you’re not brimming with topics, the conversation might awkwardly fizzle out and run dry.
If we get to talking about something deeper, though, I’ll probably be able to engage more securely. You’ll probably feel this; I’ll be more “with” you. This is especially true if the topic is something I know plenty about or am interested in (we Aspie/autistic people do usually have our Favorite Select Topics). If I am knowledgeable about the subject, you might not be able to get a word in edgewise (sorry! I don’t mean to do that). If I don’t know much about it but I’m interested, you’ll get to do all the talking, punctuated only by my endless string of questions (sorry about that one, too).
Get to know me a bit more, and you’ll see that I’m quirky in a genuine sort of way. I’m anxious, yet calm. Metaphysical and dreamy, but with a no-nonsense common sense. Blunt, yet ultra-sensitive. Logical, yet intuitive. The vague outline of my yin-yang see-saw of irony, dichotomy, and maybe even inner conflict may begin to show itself. It might be hard to reconcile, unless you penetrate far enough to reach the core. This requires patience…
Become part of my inner circle, and gradually, that dichotomy will begin to make sense. This usually comes about due to my tendency to share too much too fast and too soon, which, if my extra-sensory antennae tell me that I can trust you and feel comfortable enough with you to let down my guard and loosen my mask, I almost certainly will.
At that point, I’ll reveal my innermost layers to you, holding nothing back. We can talk for hours, never getting bored. If the conversation stalls out for a while and we drift into silent coexistence while the rest of the world continues to turn, it’s OK at this point, because the awkwardness I mentioned before would be gone, long ago.
They say that it takes seven seconds to make a first impression. I forget how long it takes to make the second one–probably somewhere in the neighborhood of 30 seconds to a minute or so?
But those FunFacts are a moot point, because you’ll need to stick around and get past that; I’ll need to make that third impression in order to come into clear view.
So, to the neurotypical people out there, don’t leave too quickly; simply ride out those first two impressions and wait for the third one. Please, give me that third glance, that time to make that third impression, and hold off on your appraisal until then. Then you’ll see the real me, if I let you.