It’s been a really long week. The job pressure has been intense, the to do list never-ending and new work just keeps on coming in. Yet another project. Yet another team, yet another client, yet more stakeholders and shareholders.
So many corridor discussions, so many off the record chats in other offices and in unofficial team meetings. Even in “social non-work” coffee catchup after work and weekends. The consensus is no more standing for it, no more status quo. It’s time to say enough is enough and to speak up.
To actually say you don’t agree, to present an alternative, to give your actual opinion when asked for it.
The problem of course is that it’s just social chit-chat, it’s just off the record moaning and complaining mixed with a little bit of gossip and false bravado. The reality is no one is going to do anything of the sort. It will be the status quo because everyone will just sit there and accept what the boss, the line manager and the CEO have already decided. We all know it is just a look of consultation, it’s not really consultation. It’s just the look to appease the unions etc.
I’m sure many people can read the above and read the nuances, know to start with that it was all bravado and bluster. This is not the case for me. I am always getting it not quite right… again. And again. And again.
I get it not quite right because there is all these social rules, regulations and nuances that I am meant to instinctively understand. I am supposed to instinctively be able to choose the times to use which one without effort, without mistake, and without confusion.
Unfortunately I don’t. My brain is not wired that way. I am wired autistically. Neurologically different. And even then it’s not quite that simple either. As you may often here it’s a spectrum and every autistic is at a different spot on that spectrum. In fact there really are infinite possible places on that spectrum an autistic can reside.
I have many times been in the scenario outlined at the beginning of this post. In fact, after reflection down the years I realise that my getting it not quite right in these situations and actually being the bunny that speaks up because they think that’s what you are meant to do, was a key factor in my inability to hold down employment. Particularly so in my short Primary School teaching career of 4 years.
There is this thing I will call the default position. And it’s this default position that seems to get me, and I suspect other autistics too, into situations where they manage to get it just not quite right.
what I mean by default position is that in a given situation or circumstance there is a default position or response. I don’t mean like a canned response, like, the ubiquitous greeting of:
“Hello how are you?”
No I mean something more base than that, something that is ingrained, not taught or learned, an almost automatic instinctive response.
If asked a question it is my default response to answer factually, honestly and as correctly as I can.
If asked what I think about something my default response is to answer as if the person asking really wants to know what I think.
If I am told a time something is to occur my default position is to expect that to occur at that time.
If I state I am going to do something my default position is that people will believe that is the case and not be surprised when I do.
If asked how I am my default position is to believe they are actually interested in how I am and not that they are asking purely because they are following a social construct of the things you do.
The list can go on. I am sure there are readers who could add to the list and that quite quickly it would be quite long indeed.
These default positions seem to get me in to no end of trouble as I walk my way through life.
They have resulted in loss of jobs, lost friends and many misunderstandings in all manner of situations.
The thing is I am not actually those things at all. I am just caught in between a default position and a misunderstanding of the social norms, rules and nuances.
Obviously I have learned that there many times when the default position is not the correct way to go in terms of what the social construct of civil society says it is.
So I have this filing cabinet, this grab-bag if you like, of rules, responses and ways of doing things in given situations. The problem, and it’s a bit of a doozy of a problem, is that no real situation is the same as the one that matches the filing cabinet or the grab bag.
Life isn’t a matter of selecting a strategy from a canned response or act according to something chosen from what is kind of like a multiple choice exam paper.
Factor in on top of this that social interaction to begin with heightens anxiety anyway resulting in an already reduced capacity to get it right. The outcome of course is predictable, another case of just not quite right… again.
It just isn’t true that many autistics are not interested in social interaction and friendships, relationships, romance, etc. It really isn’t. Well I can only really speak for myself I suppose and it certainly isn’t the case at all for me.
I crave good social interaction. I long for good friendships and other relationships. I really do. Unfortunately due to often experiencing it being just not quite right, coupled with the clear challenges due to divergent neurology it has become such a difficult thing, such a fearful thing, that disinterest appears to be the case.
And so after so many times of just not quite right… again, it’s hard to summon up the effort to be bothered to keep trying.
I wonder if others experience it like this too?