Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Aspie to NT, and Back Again

Be polite. Don't talk behind a person's back. Have a firm handshake. Learn to properly recognize the occurence of sarcasm and jokes. Learn to deliver sarcasm and jokes in an appropriate manner. Play coy. Don't butt into places you're not wanted. Don't drag the conversation down. Don't be a hermit. Don't draw unnecessary attention to yourself - hide that which makes you different.

As an Aspie in a Neurotypical world, I've had to, along with numerous other folks, learn how to blend in and not put a spotlight on my differences. From the outside I am what appears to be a perfectly average young woman, molded to a counter-culture which has become the norm (we're all hipsters here, espescially if you attend my school). I listen to alternative music with the occasional ironic hip-hop; I buy clothing from secondhand stores and H&M; I enjoy making fun of Justin Bieber and Ke$ha but am secretly fascinated by them - aren't we all?

To put it bluntly, I'm about as unique as a molecule of salt on a Big Mac. The only thing separating me from the rest of the world is the way my brain functions, and even that barrier is slowly starting to break down. My attractive appearance and (learned) pleasant disposition have either cancelled out my social mishaps, or have given me new opportunities to learn the ropes of socializing in an appropriate manner.

Though we all may moan about how our lives suck, I've been dealt a good hand, I guess.

In all of my learned appropriateness, however, the thing that haunts me to this day is the memory of being bullied. Yes, there was a time when I was disliked: death threats, harrassment, cyberbullying, you name it. I've been picked on for every feature on my body, every strange interest and/or social mishap, every honest mistake I've ever publicly made. Shit happens, you know how it goes. Everyone has their own sob story, and mine is no different from yours.

Perhaps my internal optimist stepped in, though, because while parents and teachers and therapists and guidance counselors and school officials were trying to change the structure of the school to make things easier for me, I wanted to relieve them of this pressure and change myself to fit in with my pre-existing environment. I resisted every accommodation that was made for me and instead turned myself into a chameleon.

Now, being socially malleable isn't so bad. I work well on teams and like to think that I am able to adapt to many social situations easily. I often appear eager and friendly. Being this way has made me flexible but flimsy - always wanting to please everybody but never having a backbone. Since I've taught myself to "go with the flow", I am often indecisive and may end up doing things that are unrealistic, or that I don't want to do.

Individuals who are bullied often take two routes: become severely depressed, or fight back with kindness. I've chosen the latter. While it is an arguably more pleasant and humane thing to do, falling under the teachings of virtue and goodness of most religions, I now realize I have set myself up for repulsion. I've become so sickeningly sweet that I repel many of my peers. I hold a strict moral code: never talk negatively about a person; never partake in the spreading of rumors; and never cheat, steal from, or deceive another person.

Though I've managed to protect myself from bullying, I've also managed to protect myself from having a fulfilling life, always living in the shadows of my fears, afraid to offend. I fear being an abrasive, obnoxious individual - but aren't those the people who get the furthest?

I need to re-learn some of my Aspie tendencies. Maybe I shouldn't shy away from talking about the Super Mario games if they're something I'm really passionate about. Besides, who the fuck cares how odd I am, as long as it doesn't hurt anyone? Such outspokenness will teach me to be more assertive, so I can maybe talk my way into getting a promotion at work or avoid being given bitch work because I'm so damn "easygoing".

It has taken me years to acquire the social understanding I have today. As far as outward appearances go, I've gone from Aspie to NT. Now, I think it's time to regress back to being the oddball. I'd rather things be that way.

Guys, we've got it good. Don't forget it.

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