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Confidence, masking, and general weirdness

Misery

Photo-Negative
V.I.P Member
Okay, bear with me for a bit here, as this is one of those ones where I feel like I'm going to get the phrasing a bit tangled up. It's hard to entirely explain what I'm getting at here, but I'll do my best.

So, my current situation is still in a frozen state... I aint going to explain the whole trans thing to anyone here until my father is feeling better (seriously he's a total mess right now, and both him and my stepmother are constantly low on sleep, I'm not about to add to their stress with a major reveal right now). This is... frustrating, but it's given me some time to ponder other aspects that are somewhat connected to this whole thing, yet not specifically connected to gender.

Here's the thing: this isnt JUST about telling everyone that I'm a girl. There's more to it than that. See, I'm also just... tired of masking. Just tired of it. Now, I dont mask 100% all the time. I tend to still have some odd traits, and I still look at least a little feminine most of the time (but I generally hold that back a LOT even so), and I'm aware that the whole autism thing can affect my behavior, so I'm constantly trying to control that (and I think many of you know how that goes). Also, there's my interests (and obsessions), I tend not to talk about them much, and there's one in particular that I've never even revealed. And I'm not the sort to try to squash myself into a specific little box to fit in with specific social groups. You know, stuff like that.

But... it's hard. First of all, I aint exactly the confident sort. Never was. I think there are times when I can SEEM really confident, like "I'll definitely accomplish this", that sort of thing, but... no, that's really just obsessive stubbornness. And it only happens if I want something badly enough.

Aside from that though, well... one thing I've always, always struggled with is the idea that I'm just... too freaking weird for those around me. Like, even while masking I'm definitely outside of the norm, and I often already feel strange enough just with that. But really properly being myself is... yeah. It feels like that'd shove that way further.

This applies to a lot of different aspects. For instance, general... mannerisms? Not sure if that's the right word. A bit of an example: something that I will do with some people that I talk to regularly is to use videos. At some point I had the funky idea of using VR to produce a method of communication. Think of like... leaving a voice message, but it's not JUST voice, it's a full video where I can be seen on screen... appearing in VR as an avatar of my choice, standing in front of a magic floating camera thing (which captures what it sees as a video). It lets me show some neat visuals and other stuff while I ramble on, to maybe keep it more interesting, but it also lets me not just be a disembodied voice the whole time. It also allows body language and such to show through. And it's a nice change from the huge text blobs that I use in most places.

Generally, when doing one of these, it's typically with someone that has gotten to know me to a certain point where I can let the mask fall. There arent many I talk to in this way, but... there's a couple. So, I act very differently in the videos than I do IRL (where I'm masking at all times).

Like, IRL I tend to be... well, I aint very expressive. I keep to myself, tend to not move around all that much when interacting, and stuff like that. But when communicating that way (or if I'm at, like, a convention, where I'm usually totally blasted on caffeine)... and letting the mask drop... it's different. I move around a lot and lean in different directions, and tend to wave my arms around a bunch more (comparatively). A lot more "expressive", that sort of thing. Typically a wider range of voice pitch/tone, too.

I'm tired of constantly forcing myself to tone it down so far IRL, but... again, it's that feeling of "that'd be too weird", that sort of thing. I just cant shake that.

I dunno. The whole concept has been bugging me these past few days as I go mad from boredom (waiting on the PC still, bah). But it's about time I confront it.

So... er... any thoughts? Do you deal with any of this sort of thing?
 

Atrapa Almas

70% INTJ + 30% ASPIE = 100% HUMAN
V.I.P Member
Its important to have a safe place where you can just be yourself. I got that when I left my parents home and it made a big difference in my life.

I guess that telling your parents will be a step to be more yourself, less masking.

You are on the rigth way.
 

Rodafina

Hopefully Human
V.I.P Member
Do you deal with any of this sort of thing?
YES.

So... er... any thoughts?
Help me, too, please.

My mask has been soldered on to my face for many years. I have been the Iron Man (edit: wrong reference there, I think I would be the man in the iron mask… except I’m a girl.) living inside the very mask itself. I think in most of my life I’ve only let it fall around children, which may be why I love being with them.

But the mask has crumbled over time and now it feels heavy and false.

I am right there with you, Misery, and searching for those spaces where the mask can fall. Some would notice that the mask offers politeness and social etiquette, but it is not always so innocent. The mask can begin to obscure and erase what is behind it if it is used too permanently.

It feels so important to have those spaces where the mask is off and we are totally free to be ourselves in the company of another human being… As you described when you are making the videos. I’ve had a few rare moments where I am more comfortable with no mask among friendly people and the more I allow this side of my personality to come out, the more I actually like it. I start to build my confidence and comfort with it myself. I use the word start very carefully here as I have a seriously long way to go. Finding a space to be ourselves and getting to know that person and loving them is really a first step in battling that ever vicious enemy of insecurity.

Could be similar with gender, too. Finding the places where you can thrive as a lady and really start to fall in love with that side of you seems like it would be pretty freeing and there’s so much to learn there.
 
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Outdated

Well-Known Member
V.I.P Member
I wonder if there’s simply a difference in character at play here rather than just the autism.

I was always outspoken, even as a small child. I stopped trying to fit in with other kids in about Grade 4, nothing I tried ever worked so I just didn’t bother trying any more. I had no qualms about telling anyone exactly what I thought.

A lot of people will say my mouth got me in to trouble all the time but the plain simple truth was that I was going to be abused, ridiculed and beaten no matter what I did. Not bothering to wear a mask made life a lot easier. I couldn’t be bothered with lies any more, they didn’t work anyway.

A mask was something I had to deliberately learn and wear once I left school, especially if I wanted a job or a girlfriend. I had a whole range of different masks for every different social occasion and I was good at it. My mouth never slowed down though. I come with an unfortunate streak of brutal honesty, sometimes my mouth is far quicker than I am.

My brother and sister were the same. My sister was always the most social of us. My brother and I were so alike that all we ever did was fight. Both of us were great speakers, soothers. Yes I can sell you a heater in summer, and of course you’ll be wanting my special extended warranty with that. My brother differed from me by lacking a moral compass, he was a conman and made a lot of trouble for himself when he was young.

I’ve been told that I could talk underwater with a mouthful of marbles.
I’ve been told I have more front than Myers. (department store) I smiled and said “Yes.”.

None of us three kids ever had much trouble getting what we want in life, society is lucky that we only have simple aspirations.

That all sounds wonderful. The bit everyone forgets is that it’s a mask. Mask isn’t even a really good term because it’s not just your face that you’re schooling, it’s also your body language, your voice modulation, controlled breathing, the whole show. It’s bloody exhausting.
 

Rodafina

Hopefully Human
V.I.P Member
Mask isn’t even a really good term because it’s not just your face that you’re schooling, it’s also your body language, your voice modulation, controlled breathing, the whole show. It’s bloody exhausting.
Such a great and important point. Well said.
 

Richelle-H

Relaxed Relativity Inspector
V.I.P Member
The primary thing about this is truth. When we lie to the world out of a need to protect ourselves, we also are buying into that lie. It is a scary thing to live our lives as we would wish. We project rejection and a wealth of other things on those around us without actually having the courage to explore the alternatives.

A life is a series of choices. We are confronted by those every day of our existence from the minor to major things that we must deal with. The problems arise out of that black hole that lives within each of us on the spectrum and tries to suck the joy out of life, or at the very least alters out perception of everything around us. It is the major portion of why we feel so alien. We find it hard to connect because of the lack of common experience.

Being yourself is the hardest thing in the world if you worry about what others are going to think. We have to deal with the reactions of others every day and they must deal with us in return. If you cede too much power to those who think they know you because of the way you look or the way you act, then you are hiding from yourself. That can only lead to hurt or ruminations of the what if sort in the long view.

I am the last one on the planet to offer anyone advice but you need to look inside yourself and come to terms with who you are and who you wish to be moving forward. Life is hard enough without adding to the confusion. Stake a claim and work it.

Just a thought or two from someone too far down the path to veer off it at this point. You need to own who you are, for obfuscation of that only leads to unforeseen future problems. Recriminations are always something that follows, but if you know who you are and are true to that, then it can sustain you through the inevitable tribulations that we all live through at one time or another.

All the best to you on finding a path where the good outweighs the bad.
 

Shamar

Well-Known Member
V.I.P Member
Some time ago, you wrote that you were "bent like a pretzel." I mean no offense, but I think it was more akin to "twisted like a Gordian Knot." It seems to me with your new realizations that you are starting to untwist yourself a bit.

Weirdness is a perception of both the weirder and weirdee (I hate butchering the language like that, but I can't think of any better way to put it). Be careful of dropping one mask for another, and be true to yourself. A non weird Misery would be just plain ...... weird.
 

1ForAll

Well-Known Member
V.I.P Member
I'll address the confidence and masking issues, as I addressed the weirdness issue at length elsewhere in a message to you. For me, confidence evolved, and masking occurred for those issues that my mind and body thought was right at that time. Subconsciously or consciously, my mind and body thus learned to do what was best for me, based on my coping abilities, wants and needs, and through all of my life experiences which shaped me as much as my genetics I feel.

In my case, I "initially" grew up trying to mask my social awkwardness traits for most of my youth and early adult years, in order to fit in, be accepted more, and to have less critiques and rejections. This is because it hurt a lot feeling and being totally alone in those outside environments then. However, I could never change most of those shyness ways then with regards to how I atypically looked, felt and acted, as I did not have that strength, motivation and knowledge then.

So, my averted and more anxious or sad eyes, wavering voice, brief words said to all, head looking down and distancing myself from others became often common, habit or instinct then when I walked or sat---as that was mostly me, in how shy I thought, acted and felt, and based on my limitations. But my facial expressions were able to mask some by appearing more blank or neutral to help keep others away (if that was not some genetic destined way for me to be there). So, then, I did not have any sad face or frown. Similarly, whenever happy I could not muster a smile, partly because my facial muscles were not developed all those years but largely also because I was not happy much anyway and as perhaps it was a protective measure to not appear too happy as the downs would be or feel lower then. As well, maybe it was needed for me to not frown or show much depression and anger then too, as if I did such all the time, perhaps I knew I could not handle that and the poor judgments there.

Once it became apparant I could not mask much those earlier years, I learned to accept it. But, now that I think about it, maybe that was a good thing then, for me to mostly be who I was then, as over time it helped me learn to appreciate who I was at my most vulnerable state--and to like myself first--before attempting new things in life. And after I started accomplishing a few things like surviving my painful past, finishing my community college and university studies, and from having written several works, getting dates, getting married and having children, this increased my self esteem some. But, the proudest I felt was, despite all of that shyness and pain those years through my twenties, I still believed in myself and had faith I could accomplish more things. This is because through all that adversity, I felt I still remained a person of good character through all that, had renewed energy and motivation that seemed to grow as I aged and learned more about myself and others. As well, I was self-satisfied that I had faith in my abilities despite feeling thinking others did not believe in me or like me from looking just on the surface.

So, how does this relate to Sophie's post? Well, although I feel your mind and body coped in the ways to protect you best all those earlier years, based on your experiences in life then and what was likely the least risks or more benefits then at that time, there can reach a point through growth where you learned more about yourself and identity, thus feel you must make a change to mask less and be yourself more. As well, perhaps you feel you gained more confidence, readiness, strength, energy and/or desire to think of your needs now and to act as female and in disclosing that. Also, your body perhaps is saying now at its lowest point, for you to "not be" more yourself, your anxieties and frustrations will increase more to the point of no return, so its ok to take any revealing of identity risks. I just feel we all will either consciously or subconsciously mask to get less pain and/or more pleasure, but that can evolve over time if our mental or physical health is worsening or bettering because of such. There is no perfect timetable when to do such. Some do that early on, while others do it later in life. And some only mask a little, but others a lot, as per need or ability.

For me, once I felt I had the ability to be much of who I was, regardless of critiques and rejections, even if meant avoiding others instead of masking, as I started to focus those years on the good things about me and in what I accomplished then to offset that, including finding more fault with the others for doing that, as I was doing my best there, this then gave me the foundation to try to attempt more distressing things, and to think deeper if who I was then was totally me, or if I really wanted to be at least a little different there. I felt the choices were even more then, as even if I failed in trying to alter a few things to be more who I wanted to be, if I wanted that then, at least I knew I could love and live with the past me if I had to revert back there. After much rational self-analysis of me, my past efforts, others and my goals, what I wanted to do was not to change my personality from introvert to extrovert, but just to feel more comfortable being in new situations, and if I had to meet new persons. In my case, I felt I needed to have better vocal communication skills, worry less, and to be more positive; I found some solutions there.

Your case though seems a bit different in that you seemed to mask more through all of those formative years, and as your identity then may have been less clear, or your coping abilities to be more yourself less. So, you perhaps did not naturally develop as much of that self-confidence and strength growing up, despite the successes you achieved and from the good traits you had then, as that was offset maybe by many internal worries that you were not being you and could not be you. So, in a way, although it is good you had the ability and strength to mask to prevent more critiques and rejections at that time, that really was like a temporary fix to a very important, unresolved issue. By masking earlier, you got less pain perhaps, but less pleasures from being who you really were and could have been, but you likely had no choice then as the pains could have been more by revealing who you were more then, to offset that other good. With age and growth often comes more wisdom and strength, and I feel your mind, body, actions and words now says you seem ready and needing now, to be you.

I feel being comfortable with who you are will require some support from others, and I am glad several here are giving that to you. But, realize, as good as that is in ways, it is really not about anyone else, if we ever reach that level where we need to be ourselves more, or if we feel we can be more ok with rejections and critiques, knowing that could be offset by all that freedom and pleasures in being the new you. I've said this before to you, but I just feel if we feel good about who we are, even if it goes against the grain, then we will look good. And if we look good, we will feel good. A healthy confidence is attractive even if we look or act different to what others perceive us to be, or if it is contrary to societal expectations. I just know I relate more and gravitate more to persons long term who are willing to be themselves, if they are not causing harm to themselves and others, and if they show not too much (arrogance) or too little confidence (much negativity) in who they are, regardless, if different or similar to me.

Having said all of this, it is natural for all to mask some. For instance, I personally would not go to a funeral smiling, talk louder in a library (I am softer spoken anyway), have rude posture, expression or words to someone who was nice to me, even if I was very stressed at the time, wear very casual attire to some business meeting, etc. It's very socially appropriate, in other words, for many to mask some ways at certain times. We cannot always be ourselves in public, if we want to be seen as not too weird. However, for those who cannot change in some of those ways mentioned, I try not to judge, as those with poorer executive function, cognitive or reasoning skills, or for those with some other condition, changing those ways may be too difficult.

So, it's great you started doing less masking through VR videos. And it's great you are opening yourself and desires up more and more here. I hope with these more positive experiences, you'll feel better being more the real you, and then you will not have to think as much or to alter your ways to fit what others want you to be. To be you, and to appear and act in those more feminine ways, seems like more freedom and peace of mind for you, for what I see, which should reduce anxieties and worries there, too, as changing up postures, mannerism, expressions, language, vocal tone and communications does indeed take up much energy and can greatly increase stress, in that that is not you!
 
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Darkkin

Lioness of Spoons
V.I.P Member
A contributing factor to masking and camouflage in female autistics, but one we don't often talk about because it is uncomfortable for a lot of people in general: Pretty privilege.

People generally tend to be nicer overall, they underestimate you, and will often allow you to pass through public interactions with minimal effort expended. It is like being an octopus in a land reef. You know what you are, but no one else suspects a thing. (They don't suspect the intelligence or the autism because there is no hint of either.)

I'll admit, I've had pretty privilege my entire life. The sweet and innocent guise has, in certain respects, shielded me from a lot of the harsher aspects of life. (Bullying, teasing, harassement...). Like the shell of a turtle it serves as an inherent shield. For some it is a skill developed over time, for others it is just something you've always had. And you can turn it on and off at will.

As Gandalf said to Frodo on the day of the big party:

'A wizard is never late, Frodo Baggins. He arrives precisely when he means to.'

You pass unseen until you decide to turn on the social switch and engage. It is one of the most effective guises in civilization. All the perceptions and biases society does the seeing what they want to see and they disregard the rest as Simon and Garfunkel once sang.

No one sees how deep the still water goes or how strong the currents beneath the surface are. You know the route through the flooded cave system, but very few people are accomplished cave divers, most cannot keep up, let alone follow.

The flipside of this is when you do get positive feedback about anything, (how you look, something you've done or accomplished), you don't actually believe the praise or think they must mean someone else. You're invisible, no one sees you, right? (Hello Imposter Syndrome).

You hoist the weight of your shell because it is second nature; it has never failed to protect you. And you have very little reason to trust anything beyond your shell. You people watch, you listen, you find significant fulfillment in your own inner world and company. You voice your observations to the dog as you walk around the neighborhood and engage in online forums, just as anonymous and unseen, but this time no one knows about the shell. Just as people marvel at the ingenuity of the octopus when it thinks no one is watching.

I have been an octopus in a land reef my entire life. Perfectly fine until someone sees me then I make haste to disappear.
 

Outdated

Well-Known Member
V.I.P Member
People generally tend to be nicer overall, they underestimate you, and will often allow you to pass through public interactions with minimal effort expended.....

And you can turn it on and off at will.....

'A wizard is never late, Frodo Baggins. He arrives precisely when he means to.'
This sounds very much like I was, perhaps I'm a male equivalent. I was forgiven a lot and excused a lot simply because I was attractive. I know that sucks but it is a simple fact of life. And you bet I played on it.

This was behaviour I learned as a young adult.

I had an unflappable ego to go with it. On one occasion I was sitting at a table in the pub and I stood to go to the bar for more beers. The barman had been hiding in a corner having a quiet smoke and my standing caught his eye so I held up 3 fingers and he nodded.

The barman hadn't noticed a woman standing there waiting to be served, as I approached the bar the barman started putting beers in front of me and the woman asked "How come you get served before I do?" and I told her "It's because I have Presence.". She looked me up and down and smiled at me.

My great grandmother once told me "You have two blessings, the gift of the gab and the gift of the glam, a terror waiting to be released unto the world.". At the time I was upset that she hadn't mentioned how smart I was but she was right in the end. Most people are more swayed by the glam than by a glib mouth.

I can still turn it on when I need to but I don't often find the need these days.
 

Gracey

Well-Known Member
V.I.P Member
I only 'know' (?) you on here. This site.
I like your input on here.
I don't "know you" to be anything other than what you present here.

You have the acceptance of a site full of people who value your perspective or approach.
Explain to me why you'd want to change that.
* perplexed shrug *

(you're going to have to correct me if I'm missing your point :) )
 

Knower of nothing

Well-Known Member
There's the you that's blasted on caffeine and excited. And there's the you that's timid and intimidated into muted expression. To me, both are equally real reflections of the feelings in your heart, not masks. Change how you feel around people and you change the reflection.
 

Ken

Well-Known Member
V.I.P Member
Wow, as I ponder the concept of pretty privilege, it occurs to me that this is an element of the 90 percent communications rule.

I have mentioned the 90% rule before on this forum and to other individuals, but no one really believes it. As a career engineer ingrained with test and measure, I have tested the 90% communications rule and it proves out. The rule is that 90% of communications is composed of tone and body language (expression, mannerisms, etc.) and the actual words are only 10%. The actual published figures resulting from scientific studies is 93% and 7%.

Pretty much my whole life has been an exercise in frustration that everything I say to anyone is misunderstood and usually results in an angry argument. Later in life, as I learned that I am autistic and socially blind, I found that 90% of my communication is not in sync with my words, resulting in misunderstandings. My test was to vary my words or even repeat, verbatim, the words of the other person and I got the same results. I even tried making the words gibberish or illogical with the same results. I then tried it with extra effort in masking which worked better than correct words without masking. I also noticed that other people’s conversations were filled with fragmented sentences with lots of missing words and each person seemed totally satisfied with the conversation. I learned that if I write my communications so they only get the words, without any expressions, body language, etc., they get it completely. No misunderstanding or confusions.

As mentioned, my communications frustration has been most of my life. I always knew something was wrong with me, but I never knew about masking. I met my wife on a computer chatroom, so it was all nonverbal text for several months. We fell in love in that chatroom which was stronger than my repulsiveness. It was my wife that taught me how to mask. (it turns out that my repulsiveness was my expressions and mannerisms; not my looks.)

In any event, @Darkkin, with your introduction to the concept of pretty privilege, now I can see a connection there. I believe that pretty privilege is another element of body language. My life has been the total opposite of pretty privilege. I guess I would be more of an ugly exclusion or something opposite to pretty privilege. In my early life, before I learned anything about masking, I always felt I was more repulsive than Quasimodo.

I’m certainly no expert in anything social, but it is now clear to me that it is all a matter of perception. I suppose, @Misery, that if you wanted to lift that burden off your shoulders and disclose your feelings, I suspect with the right presentation it could be done in a positive perception to all you would disclose too. I think that is possible, although I really cannot advise on how to do it. Perhaps your animations?
 

NB79

Well-Known Member
Sorry to be a con, but this whole gender thing just seems dissapears when you have to deal with 'real problems', like fighting to get your bread every day. In my humble opinion you are getting into trouble in your mind unnecesarily, and society likes to brainwash young people with gender ideology, i could see this backfiring in the future, years ago this kind of thing didn't even enter the minds of people, it was totally unkonwn, and i think it was for the better of everyone.
 

Rodafina

Hopefully Human
V.I.P Member
but this whole gender thing just seems dissapears when you have to deal with 'real problems', like fighting to get your bread every day.
This is absolutely not true. There are many people out there with problems like finding food and shelter and also seeking acceptance for who they really are.

I do not see this comment as helpful in anyway, and I completely disagree with your thinking.

It is thinking like this that makes it so difficult for people who just want to be themselves. This is one of the most basic human desires – to be accepted.
 

NB79

Well-Known Member
This is also inaccurate. It is important to be educated on social topics in order to discuss them in a way that is not regressive to social progress that is being made.

You may find the following link interesting.

When i was in high school there were zero i mean zero trans students, not only that i didn't even know it was a thing.
Ideas spread around sometimes, and some are bad.
 

Rodafina

Hopefully Human
V.I.P Member
When i was in high school there were zero i mean zero trans students, not only that i didn't even know it was a thing.
Ideas spread around sometimes, and some are bad.
Your experience in high school is valid, but also unique to you, not a social indicator. Also, just because you thought there were zero trans students doesn’t mean some of them were not wrestling with this idea in their heads. Many trans people feel the need to be silenced and to hide because it is not safe for them to be themselves.

It is important for ideas to evolve and adapt over time to reflect the true experience of human beings. Good ideas and bad ideas are judgments and none of us are judges here. I am sad that you cannot see this is a thread where an amazing woman took a chance on discussing a difficult topic and love and support is needed. I wish that you could find a way to bring a bit more of that here.
 

Rodafina

Hopefully Human
V.I.P Member
not only that i didn't even know it was a thing
So, you didn’t know then, you are aware of it now, but here’s your chance to learn much more.

Spend some time learning about the history of people who identify as transgender and the struggles they have faced and the challenges they have overcome. Read the experiences of people who are transgender but also very similar to you, people you can identify with and show more compassion toward. It could be fascinating and interesting to you to realize that there is a huge population of people out there who are fighting to simply be themselves in a society that has been cruel and unkind. This is our chance to change that and to stop this fear that trans people can have to simply say I am who I am. Many of us got to do that without a fight and everybody deserves at least this much.
 

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