(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. 😉