Let’s think out of the box. Let’s do something adventurous with this blog piece. A Q&A with yourself perhaps?
How can you make a good first impression when you meet somebody?
Pick up on something they say or something they’d like to do while they’re with you. Become fixated on it. Think of you and your new friend as the Two Musketeers. Start planning. Get Google Maps up on your phone. Go on a quest you feel will help them!
What do you want to be when you grow up?
I want to be a journalist. I want to study. I want to help others. I want to be a public speaker. I want to be a mentor to young jobseekers. I want to be a bookkeeper. I want to retrain. I want to fly a rocket into space.
When have you received good customer service and why was it helpful?
Finding a size 12 pair of trainers isn’t easy. A customer care team on Twitter helped me to track some down. My response to an employee called Mel B: “Thanks Mel :), taking time out from the recording studio to DM is very kind of you. Keeping some stock under the counter is even kinder”.
Think this introduction is spontaneous? If you mean spontaneous to you with a lot of planning from me, it was. I overanalyse until my brain hurts. I’m overanalysing about writing this right now! Forget anything you’ve heard about people with autism not showing empathy or feelings. They can do and it can be the hardest thing for a person with autism (me) to understand!
Trying to fit in is hard though. Trying to do the right thing or say the right thing is a constant battle. Putting my thoughts into words is becoming a real struggle and when I do, I feel I’m choosing the wrong ones. When I try to help, I feel I do too much. Was looking for and searching for an obscure craft shop for a friend too much? Was picking up on Mel’s name and making an obscure link to the Spice Girls too weird? These ideas seemed like great ideas to me at the time but maybe they’re a bit too odd on the outside. There isn’t a negative reaction to think about but I’m my harshest critic. Thankfully though, as Alexander Durig describes in Autism and the Crisis of Meaning, I may not be alone:
“Being normal is actually something of an accomplishment. From a microsociological point of view, it is something we have to learn how to do.
“The expectations of others are so strong as to exert a more or less constant pressure on the individual actor to conform to socially established meanings, including and especially, the norms against overanalysing everyday meanings and overextending common sense. Consequently, we always want other people to be happy, but not too happy. We want others to be serious, but not too serious. We want others to be individuals, but not too individualistic. And we do not mind it when people are philosophical, as long as they do not get too analytical.”
If Durig’s thoughts apply to people with autism and neurotypical or normal people, I’m happy.
My message to Mel may be weird as I realise it was completely uncalled for, after a long and hard overanalyse, but my meeting with my friend could have been okay. Note the emphasis on the could. I know we were happy, I know we weren’t too serious and I know we were happy being ourselves. Talking about missing out on opportunities and impulses by not taking risks as a happy-go-lucky person could have been the only too analytical bit!
Eyes didn’t glaze over though as far as I, being somebody who isn’t always great with body language and hints, could tell. I did get the hint there was hot chocolate on my lip though and I think we both enjoyed the chip and pin game. There’s positives that were lost to doubt which made me want to write this!
As for finding work, that’s a different kind of overanalysing. The kind that doesn’t worry me as much but it’s still there.
I’ll be a thirtysomething from October 2016. I’m mature enough (almost) and have achieved a lot as a late twentysomething for a man who wouldn’t have been walking, talking or doing anything if medical professionals had their way. I’m not a doorstop (something I mean in jest!) but I’m not in a strong career with a strong salary yet. This worries me. It makes me wonder what I’m doing wrong.
An interest in journalism led to a BA (Hons) degree that led to blogging that led to the development of a business that led to public speaking that has led to volunteering and an interest in bookkeeping. Being a spaceman doesn’t fit into this framework anywhere but everything else kinda connects. Not having enough experience is something I worry about. Not having the qualifications is something I worry about. Being too narrow-minded is something I worry about.
I’m sure opportunities are tucked away somewhere. They just need to be found by an average guy with autism or, with the help of a higher power, somebody who wants to show an average guy with autism how the world can be an easily understood place with understanding people. The journey of discovery goes on.
Time to breathe! That was exhausting. Rather than have me wonder, how was it for you?