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.