Silence, success, and failure ~ an (one) Aspie / Autistic perspective 

(Preface, added after some misunderstanding: this is not a slam on neurotypical people, nor is it meant to speak for all, or anyone but myself, for that matter.  It’s also only a slice or snapshot of my thoughts, not necessarily representative of my thoughts as a whole.)

Sundays are lazy days in our household–the days in which my mind wanders particularly far, in search of the secrets of the universe.  Sometimes, I get lucky and stumble upon concepts I can actually string together and convert into words.  Here is today’s treasure chest…

What is silence but a failure to be acknowledged?  Or so sings the neurotypical song, in the most general sense.

What is the average, general mould of the world at large but a single dimension?  A single and accepted, agreed-upon set of rules and standards one must live up to.  Failure to do so is, of course, according to the world at large, FAILURE, and success at doing so means, predictably, SUCCESS.  Meet these benchmarks and you will go far; you will “make it” in life, everyone is told.  The gist of the song is, to be successful at being “normal” is to be happy and fulfilled, wanting for nothing.

That’s the big lie, of course.  “Normal” isn’t always quite all it’s cracked up to be, and meeting their yardstick notches isn’t necessarily the path to guaranteed success or happiness.  

Take friendship, for example.  To have friends is a primary NT-based goal.  The more, the better, goes the verse to the song.

But that doesn’t work out quite so well for me.  I love having friends (!).  But to have more than 3 close friends at once feels like juggling, and I get overwhelmed.  I’m most content keeping a smaller circle.

Take another example: material wealth.  The more money you make, the higher your social status.  Except what if I don’t care so much about social status?  What if I’m OK with a smaller salary if it means I’m content at my workplace?  I made money in sales in my younger years, and we know I made good money as a model for an artist, but both of those jobs left my heart pounding before each shift or session.  Neither of those jobs lasted more than 6 months, because I prefer not to dread each day.  

Apparently being able to say you’re a model or a sales representative carries a certain social status and respect from the world.  

But I felt anything but respect for myself when I held those positions.  I was also working at McDonald’s at the time, a job considered to be very low on the social food chain.  But that’s the job that, out of those 3, I stuck with the longest.

And now let’s circle back to silence, and the sitting therein.  As an Aspie/autistic person, I’m OK with sitting in silence beside my partner or one of those few close friends.  I’m content and comfortable.  I don’t have to try to identify my thoughts or express myself in words.  I don’t perceive the silence as a failure to have my presence acknowledged; it’s more of a success in being able to Just Be without having to explain myself, without feeling the pressure to interact in order to keep the shared bond alive.

I love silence.  My Aspergian/autistic nervous system gets a break from activity and stimuli, and it gets the opportunity to reach a state of calm.  I don’t need a tornado of chaos around me to feel alive.  I don’t necessarily need my partner to speak to me in order to feel validated or acknowledged.  I don’t need to be surrounded by a gaggle of offline friends to feel popular or wanted; I don’t necessarily need that much attention.  I’m free of the desire to go to a popular hangout with the craving to Be Seen there.

This probably means that I have not met the neurotypical-written benchmarks of “success”.  I am not bathing in material wealth or a plentiful offline social circle.  My Facebook profile and Twitter account are far from “cool”, nor do I post dozens of items daily.  I don’t always Play Well With Others.  Sometimes I even Run With Scissors.  😉

Most (not all, I know!) of the neurotypical world would stare at me (or not; maybe they wouldn’t even notice me) and think I’ve failed at the game, failing to sing along to the song.

But actually, I’ve written my own song.  And I’m belting it out.  😉

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37 Comments

  1. Sorry, but I don’t agree with this one. I think there are plenty of neurotypical people who don’t judge everything based on material wealth or status. My parents aren’t Aspies, but they brought me up to value character and good deeds over wealth or status.

    Likewise there are plenty of introvert NTs who are happy to sit in silence (I’m still not sure whether I’m Aspie or just very introverted and socially anxious – it’s hard for me to tell them apart).

    Liked by 5 people

  2. I enjoy silence, but what I crave is solitude. I enjoy my own company and digesting the contributions of others at my own pace. It’s part of the reason I enjoy living alone but being active on social media.

    Liked by 9 people

  3. I think success, even financial success, is measured in meaning and happiness. It’s not how much you make, but the net, anyway. If you make $120K but have huge debt, are you successful?

    Silence is the opposite of what you described. If you can sit in silence with someone else, saying nothing, but being content and happy, that to me means your relationship with that person is very, very good indeed for anyone. Anytwo? And for you, it means that, plus he is considerate of your needs and cares for you. 😊❤

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Yep, completely agreed, on all points! So true about the debt part, especially. And the silence; silence is either a very bad thing or a very good thing (IMO); we flip-flop, but mostly it’s a good thing 👍🏼. I love the type of girlfriends, too, with whom I can Just Be. I have 2 in particular with whom I can hang out, and we don’t have to say a thing 😁💓💓

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  4. “Sometimes I even Run With Scissors.  😉”

    I LOVE IT!! ahahahahah
    Even though I’m not an Aspie I understand what you mean and I also feel that way. I don’t mind being on my own and say “No, I don’t want to socialise” but I hate solitude. I don’t need a lot of people around me and I don’t need loud noises. Put me in a room with a few friends, give me a blanket and let’s watch a movie. I’m fine with that.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Although I’ve been (mostly) happily married for 46 years and can’t image living without my wife, I’m finding I crave solitude more and more as I get older. My favourite time of the day is the interval between when she goes to bed (typically around 9:30 pm)and when I’m ready for bed (around 1:00 am). It’s during that time that I solve the problems of the world, discover what a boson really is, catch up with fellow bloggers, or just let my mind dive into a sea of What Ifs.

    Liked by 3 people

  6. I love your passion. So much of this resonated with me! I grew up quiet shy but not feeling I needed to fit in necessarily. I was kind of content that way. My daughter who has yet to be officially diagnosed has friends who understand her and know that to much stimuli overwhelm her. They remain a silent support. It’s really how you manage your world. How you accept yourself. Once you do that… the world around you accepts you. That’s how I see it. Now I’m learning from my daughter. Her quiet strength… her neuro surge… the balance she needs… the focus… it’s from that quiet… that alone time that allows you to filter everything that’s happened… is happening. I get it.

    Love this!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Amen 👍🏼👍🏼. It’s not even really an Aspie vs NT thing; it’s just that this blog is through my Aspie lens, so I gotta “play” to that (not meant in a patronizing or manipulative way 😁). I know I’ve got a lot of excellent company in the non-AS lovelies 👍🏼💗💗

      Liked by 2 people

    1. Awww! 😘😘. I hope you get your dream, Dearest Sister of my Heart 💖💖. (Under good circumstances, of course!). Sing along with me girl, even if it’s just in spirit 😘💗💗🎤🎧🎼💕💝💕

      Like

  7. Love this post. Really speaks to me. As an only child I grew up used to silence and solitude. As a adult, I now understand my personality. I’m an introvert with a capital ‘I’, so maybe that helped me be happy with the solitude. I only recently learnt that some people really hate being on their own. I don’t get it! 😉 And I generally find sound exhausting and hugely distracting. Though once in a blue moon a flipside of me will soak up the hustle and bustle of a noisy city and love the buzz of it. Maybe that’s me ‘Running With Scissors’!

    On your other point about jobs, I’ve always been a ‘minion’ (before they thought of turning us into a fim 😉 ). Happiest in a job that involves a hard day’s work but without the mental stimulus/interactions/ambition needed to fit in to certain roles. Most content to just ‘be’.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Yes!! 👏🏼👏🏼😘. My favorite job was construction. I worked with one guy (a nice guy), it wasn’t expected that we would talk while working (he said he didn’t once we started working for the day, which was fine with me), and I could just do my thing 💜.

      I was raised partly in a fairgrounds/carnival environment and I have (unrelated, genetic) hearing loss now, so noise doesn’t bother me too much, depending on the type of noise 😁. But yes, I’m *really* sensitive to some noise and can’t stand it. Very exhausting indeed! I also get very irritable when overstimulated and overwhelmed. Then I *really* Run With Scissors 😉😁🌺

      I’m so happy that the post spoke to you!! Thank you so much for reading and commenting! 💚💙💜💖

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes! 👏🏼👏🏼💖. They’re like “what’s wrong?” “She’s snobby.” “She’s uptight.” “She’s brooding.” “She’s keeping secrets.” Etc. Etc. Etc.

      I’ve had a lot of these experiences 💙. It sounds like you have, too, or something similar. I’m sorry that you have 💗💗

      Like

  8. That’s why cats are my best company😹 We could ignore each other and enjoy each other’s company at the same time😻
    Be it autistic or an introverted NT or an introverted autistic, the problem is the world at large is too loud for us and our voices are subsumed because we are in the minority. The more I interact with humans, the more I wonder if the findings of a research conducted on the general population can be said to be representative of me 😂 😷

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Oh wow! Welcome to the community! Lots of really cool people here and elsewhere on WP; some of my favorite posts from some awesome bloggers can be found here, in this sort of “round-up” post 😁

      https://thesilentwaveblog.wordpress.com/2017/02/10/70-of-the-absolute-best-actuallyautistic-blog-posts-ive-ever-read-300th-post/

      Please feel free to come on in and make yourself at home! Lots of posts about various topics all related to being an Asperger’s/autistic adult (and looking back on childhood), and lots of awesome commenters, both on and off the spectrum, some are parents in your position, and so on 😘. It’s the readers who make this a great place, and many have blogs of their own (which rock my world), too! 💖🌟💖🌟💖 🎉🎊

      Cheers! 🌺🌺

      Like

  9. I love this post 💛 what you say is very true for me as well. Before diagnosis I was trying to make as many friends as possible, going to as many events as possible, and feeling panicky and vulnerable while I was there, and over stimulated and unwell when I got home. The same for jobs – I tried two very “professional” jobs and they really destroyed me – just because I have a degree it doesn’t mean I have to do a high powered job, and that realisation has really hit me now! It’s wonderful, this feeling. That a happier, ASD friendly life is within reach – life on my terms rather than trying to conform. 💜💜💜

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Amen, Sister! I can definitely relate 😘. Omg the anxiety and the energy drain (and the increasing fatigue as time went on). Hehe I used to think I was a social butterfly (!) (😂); yeah, that only lasted into my mid-20s, around the time when I started to wonder why I was starting to feel burned out lol. Coincidence? I think not 😉. Hell yes, we can live a much happier and more fulfilling life once we realize which “yardstick” is the right measurement tool 😁💞. “Life on my terms” indeed! I love the way you put that 👏💪😍❤️❤️

      Liked by 1 person

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