They thought I was ‘intense’…when I was actually autistic 

All my life, the word “intense” has crept into the conversation, usually in reference to my personality or my behavior or my vocabulary or my stances on various issues.

Maybe I am, and maybe I’m not.  It’s in the eye of the beholder (or is it?), and it’s all relative (or is it?).

Discovering that I am Aspergian/autistic in adult life has not only been a cataclysmic game-changer (why else would I keep talking about it? Lol), but it has nudged me (an understatement) to rethink so many aspects of my life.

And so, here are my thoughts on this one, my long-delayed “rebuttal” to the observation (or assumption–or is it?) that I am “intense”.

A person simply reacts or responds to the world around them.  That’s how the human being is geared and wired.  I’m no different.  Autistic people are, after all, people (chuckle; relax!–I meant that in good fun).

It’s not like I was trying to be intense or forceful, forcing my presence unto the world, all hail moi or anything.  It was more of a natural phenomenon.  The world was (and is) intense to me.  My natural, HUMAN response is to be intense back.  But it’s not like I was doing this on purpose.  Hell, I wasn’t even doing it consciously.  I wasn’t even aware that I was doing it.

I always felt bewildered when people would use the word “intense” to describe me.  I was just existing, after all.  Trying to be human in a sea of human beings. 

Eventually I realized my intensity, and I became self-conscious of it.  This self-consciousness progressed further; it became withdrawal.  Fine; if people think I’m too intense, then that must mean I need to back off.  And the only way I knew how to do that was to withdraw.

I’m still trying to find that mythical Happy Medium, the pullback on intensity without necessarily withdrawing.  But I haven’t found it yet.  As with so many aspects of my life, it’s all or nothing, black and white.  I don’t always know how to be gray.  I don’t always know when to say when, or when it’s enough.

At 40, I’m still learning.  And I suspect that I will be for quite a while.

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81 Comments

        1. Awww so cool!! I know it might seem silly to some for me to be so jazzed about something so “simple”, but the experience of being able to relate to people, being heard, seeing my thoughts being reflected back to me (like your wonderful blog does for me) has been a rare experience up until now, and it’s such a beautiful one that I didn’t know I craved so much. Thank you for that 💚💙💜💓😘

          Liked by 3 people

  1. I love reading the blogs on here and remembering situations in my own life where I have been accused of the same type of things. I’ve always been called intense. Another aspect that I haven’t enjoyed is that I have been called a narcissist which is completely untrue, I simply have trouble communicating in face to face situations without referencing myself and my own experiences.

    I too, at 34 am trying to find my happy medium. I no longer deny myself the autistic traits that I tried to hide for so many years but at the same time I also don’t know what my new understanding actually means to me fully just yet.

    I no longer second guess myself as much but I wonder if at times I still should. I don’t think there is an easy answer to this.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Thank you so much for sharing your story! I can definitely relate to all you said 😀. I also share your quandaries; I haven’t found very many easy answers either 💕. The unpacking process is definitely a Process, at least in my experience and what I know about the experiences of others 💚💙. Thank you so much for your kind words and your blog, too! I’m enjoying it immensely 👏🏼👏🏼🖐🏼

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve been called intense many times as well. I’m most likely to be called too much, ironically, when I’m just happy and really into something. I guess intensity about our passions is common among different types of neurodiversity. I can’t imagine not having that much intensity about good things, though. I feel a bit sad for people who don’t know what it’s like to be hyperfocused-ive into something…

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  3. At the same time, doesn’t the world feel pretty intense itself? Some people’s reactions, attitudes, or presence overall can seem intense and yet everyone else seems to be okay with things as is.
    Some things require that intensity and I think it’s both a blessing and a healthy outlet to direct it into something meaningful. 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Totally! 👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼. And it (the world) seems to be getting more and more so (intense) 💙. I also agree that intensity can be an asset…or a hindrance. Of course, I’d like to think that my type of intensity can be constructive and sometimes the type of intensity of the world at large can be pointless at times, but then again I’m biased 😉😂😁💓💗

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  4. My experience of you has never felt intense. Like too much or too strong or however those other people meant it. My experience of you is that you are caring, giving, open, passionate about the things you care about (maybe that’s the *intense*) none of those belong in the bad column. At work it wouldn’t be appropriate to “let it all hang out”, but otherwise be YOU! If someone doesn’t like it…bye👋 “don’t let the doorknob…” Don’t change to please other people. They’ll never be satisfied anyway. You are awesome just exactly the way you are!👍🎸🎶🎉🎊✨🎆🎇⚡🌟🌠🌛🌚🌜🌞🌈💫🍻🍀🐉🕊🐬💥💌💗💓💗💞🙌😍😍😘☯☮🌹🌸🌺🌼💘💖

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    1. I love it! Yes, THIS, a thousand times 👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼😁😁. I think my intensity comes in handy lol 😉. But yeah, sometimes it’s tough to curb in certain situations lol. Thank you so much for reassuring and encouraging me, Cosmic Sis!! Your insight and wisdom are amazing 😁😘💗🌟💟💜💙💚💖🌺💪🏼👏🏼😎🤗🌎🍀🌴🌸🌹✨☄💫🍻🍾🎤🚀🏝🌈🎇💌🎉🎊🎈💘💕☮💛❤️☯💝

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  5. My youngest child (24) has these issues but we have known of them since he was 2. I have learned a lot about many issues and different people from what I have learned about his issues, He is veryyyyy smart, much more so than I am and He has grown into a fine young man, his Mom and I are very blessed to have him in our lives. You are correct, life is a learning process, we learn from others far more than we learn from our own self centered existence.

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  6. I supported a young girl for three years with Aspergers at school. I loved her ‘intensity’. It’s what made her so incredibly unique and intriguing (and witty! Oh she had a quick sense of humour!) Thank you for sharing the world through your eyes. It can help to open the eyes of many xx

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  7. Yep, I’ve always been ‘accused’ of being intense too. I’m not so sure it should necessarily be taken as an insult though! (Although it felt very much like an insult when I was younger, before I learnt to accept myself more – which is still a work in progress!!!) I remember when Trump was elected I eventually forced myself to stop posting about it on facebook because people were becoming annoyed at my intensity of emotion. So I just withdrew instead. So I’m like you in that – either intense or nothing – I struggle with in betweens. But then again if people were never intense about anything, the world would have no activists and inventors, and there would be absolutely no progress, ever.

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  8. Goodness, I was called passionate, forthright and/or full on and intense on many occasions (as well as rude). I could never understand why, or what it meant. Since my diagnosis, Self reflection and looking at how I differ from the majority has opened my eyes. Indeed it seems I am as described. Can’t yet decide if I should be ashamed or proud, but I suppose I’ll find a way through.

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    1. You will 😊💞. I think it can be (or become) a source of strength, (dare I say pride), an asset at the very least! 😁. The world needs all kinds, which means there’s a spot in it for all of us, no matter what we bring to the table 💖💖. Personally, I love what you bring 💚💙💜

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  9. Like many who commented, I too have been called intense and I know I am. I hadn’t thought about it until I read your post but yes, we learn to hold back because of the comments. It’s never a positive comment although some friends have reported back to me others said it as they laughed with me. Sometimes it was a badge of honor. Like Thomas said above, 100 times yes, how are we intense and yet flat and lacking emotion all at the same time?! I feel like trying to, for lack of a better word, normalize my emotional public face (not my actual emotions) has been such a difficult thing for me for decades. Thank you for writing this and for putting into words what so many of us feel.

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    1. Wow, such a great comment! 👏🏼❤️ I can totally relate – thank You for putting into words what I’ve been thinking and feeling, too! The irony of being called “too flat” and yet “too intense” is indeed an interesting one. And did I mention oh, the irony? 😉😂🌺. Thank you for sharing your thoughts! 💚💙

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  10. Pff, DITTO!! Except, I see intensity as just one of many flavors of expression – everyone has their favorite flavors and their least favorite flavors, both with their own expression and with that of others. Like you, I have a tendency to withdraw (i.e. facebook friend purges, cocooning, rejecting invitations), but I’m transitioning from total withdrawal and reset into better “friend management”, meaning tighter parameters on my definition of who I want to maintain contact/interaction with. Of course, you can’t avoid everyone who won’t enjoy your flavor of expression, though. For those people, I try to tell myself they just prefer vanilla or strawberry to my dark chocolate mocha fudge, and they can just go and get some of their own blandness elsewhere.

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  11. Oh yes, I’ve been called intense many times, even by a ‘friend’ who ended our relationship because of that. I was too much! I’m happiest when I’m intense, so it’s difficult to pull back any. I love being fully interested and engaged with everything around me. That’s what being alive is. IMO, of course.

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