My experience as an Asperger’s/autistic person is sometimes a confused existence. I’m not sure if I’ll ever “get” the unwritten code of social rules. Maybe my code book is outdated. Or maybe I just flat-out never received one.
My Aspergian/autistic existence is also a no-win situation. No matter what I do, I’m missing something. No matter what my answer, it’s the wrong one.
As usual, I’ll explain, complete with examples (grin).
If I don’t smile, people think I’m crabby or depressed or humorless. If I do, they get suspicious, wondering what’s so funny or why I’m happy.
If I don’t go into enough detail, then the misconceptions ensue. If I explain more thoroughly, it’s too much, it’s overwhelming, and suddenly I’m a boring, self-absorbed know-it-all who lacks the social skills to know when to stop.
If I don’t disclose or get personal enough, I’m being coy. If I get deeper and reveal more, I can almost feel the people thinking “whoa, TMI!”
If I don’t show enough emotion, I’m heartless and aloof. If I do, I’m childish and dramatic.
If I’m honest, then I’m blunt. If I hold back, I’m “playing coy”; if I’m diplomatic, I’m suddenly accused of being passive-aggressive.
If I don’t try hard enough to connect, I’m antisocial; if I try harder, I’m clingy.
I either try too hard, or not hard enough. I’m either doing it too much, or I’m doing it too little. I’m either going too far, or not far enough. I try to walk the tightrope. But Goldilocks I am not, and I can never quite seem to get the balance right.
Either way, assumptions get made, and those assumptions are wrong.
Either way, feelings get hurt, whether theirs, mine, or both.
Either way, everyone’s doing the best they can but no matter what, it’s not always enough.
This isn’t something I can grow out of or learn to master, any more than the “other side” could see the world as I see it, from where I sit.
Because one doesn’t simply “grow out of” Asperger’s/autism. I can learn–and have learned–to grow with it, according to it, in cooperation with it, but despite the hardships that sometimes arise from the glitches that sometimes form during interaction between two neurotypes, I wouldn’t want to leave mine behind. I don’t always enjoy the tightrope I must walk or the disasters that sometimes ensue, but I do enjoy being me. I have grown into having fun with my neurotype. As for the times when the results aren’t so fun, well, it is what it is (grin).
I have a thesis statement to make: even though I find myself in situations where I feel like I can’t win, I do. And to be clear, just because I win, doesn’t mean that anyone else loses. There doesn’t have to be a loser in order for there to be a winner.
I win because even at the end of a challenging encounter, complete with its misconceptions, assumptions, and maybe even hurt feelings, I don’t lose myself. I don’t give up being who I am. I don’t attempt to trade my personality characteristics in for others. I don’t shame myself. In my post-Asperger’s self-discovery world, even my self-criticism is limited, having softened its tone and relaxed its demands.
Sometimes, after a difficult interaction, all I can do is one big proverbial mental (or literal, physical) shoulder-shrug.
I tend to say “it is what it is” a lot. I’ve adopted that stance in place of trying to do the impossible: transform the core of my being into something I’m not, and something that I’d rather not even be.
So even when it seems like I can’t win, even when it seems like my best efforts will not always be good enough, the deficit is limited to the perceptions of others, because my best is good enough for me. It has to be, because it’s all I can do. I know in my heart that I’ve done my best, and in the end, I’ve walked away intact, even if damaged a little.
The important part is that I’m still me, and the more-important part is that I’m OK with that. 🙂