Saturday, October 31, 2015

The Big Open-Ended Question: On Loving and Accepting My Asperger’s

Magenta has written "The Big Open-Ended Question: On Loving and Accepting My Asperger’s" on The Toast.






The words always stood out ominously: “Tell me about yourself.”
Any time I met potential new friends or went on a date or had a job interview, that’s when I’d get into trouble. Sooner or later, there would be the big open-ended question. Sooner or later I’d have to talk about myself.
I would try and start off by listing and explaining my interests, and then after a while I might say, “Well, I’m a little awkward.” If I were drunk, maybe I would be a little more daring and say, “I’m bad at socializing.” But even if that went over well—and I was constantly afraid of the day it didn’t, the inevitable day when what I hoped would come off as endearing would backfire—I might want to say more, but feel profoundly afraid of doing so.
I always felt the constant spectre of the unsaid, of wanting but not knowing how to disclose who I really am. I can’t quite pinpoint the exact moment when I started feeling uncomfortable with who I was; I guess it’s when I realized that simple friendship and even just talking to people was hard for me. I couldn’t tell you at what point I diverged from the rest of the people on my Facebook feed, when they all started getting photographed at pool parties and baby showers that I wasn’t invited to, while I posted selfies and funny subway ads. It is common knowledge that making friends can become harder as you get older and are forced to find your own group – when you’re not at school among your peers, all day, every day. I am aware that I’m not the only person who gets anxious and sad when thinking about her social life (or lack thereof). But for me, much of the anxiety and sadness stems from the feeling that all of this is beyond my control.

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