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Featured Does anyone else here actually ENJOY some social interaction? [Warning: A NOVEL]

Discussion in 'Friends, Family & Social Skills' started by Baphocletian, Dec 26, 2020.

  1. Baphocletian

    Baphocletian Arch-Degenerate V.I.P Member

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    OK, I know this thread is gonna seriously call my "Aspie cred" into question, and in some people's opinions, may even disqualify me from being on the spectrum altogether. But ever since I was diagnosed in 5th grade and started researching this enigmatic condition more thoroughly, I've gravitated toward almost all traits that comprise Aspie-ness. The scientific community loves to slander people on the spectrum as being physically incapable of empathy, but in my case this couldn't be further from the truth. Recently, I've come to reconcile my identity as an autistic person with my own ambitions (and growing ability, I'd like to think) as an increasingly-independent and socially involved adult.

    In other words: I crave contact with my existing friends and meeting new people, yet still consider myself an Aspie. I never asked to be "big man on campus", but nor do I think it's realistic (or even healthy) to be an absolute lone wolf. I certainly don't want to be considered part of mainstream society, but I don't necessarily want to shun it altogether. This twilight zone of my social life, somehow, coexists with me being an Aspie. How is all this possible? Can anyone else relate...?

    Currently, I think it wouldn't be fair to ask for a better (distanced) social life, as an Autie or a neurotypical. It's definitely a quantity-vs.-quality sort of thing; as aforementioned, I'd prefer being just "one of the guys" than the BMoC any damn day. I stay in daily social media contact with my crew of like-minded degenerate comrades in my state, nationwide, and even internationally. We have similar senses of humor, can feel confident in venting to each other, and even sometimes engage in a little trash-talk in good fun. I'm also the vocalist for a death metal band with three other world-class fellow edgelords; we're finally beginning to record our first material (I met our drummer IRL at a summer job last year, and already consider him one of my closest friends). And perhaps most crucially, for almost two years now, I've been in a stable, passionate relationship with the most wholesome, adorable, generous, and naughty boy on Earth, after six-and-a-half years of cold, bitter singleness. I have the kind of people in my circle who I only daydreamed about as an angsty, hormonal teenager.

    Feel free to skip ahead to the last paragraph if you want to. Let me give you all a bit more context. Throughout my early childhood, it was always pretty clear that I stood out from the rest of the kids, and not always for nice reasons. I was frog-marched down to the principal's office more times in elementary school alone than have had sex in my whole life. That turkey-necked, liver-spotted little frog-eater came to expect me as one of the "problem children" of my class. I saw my classmates out at recess playing touch football, or laughing over Wacky Web Tales in the computer lab, and I actually ached for that for myself, even while engrossed in my solitary passions and obsessions. But by then, I'd already alienated myself from them. And it was all my fault.

    A long track record of butchered attempts at initiating friendships, and the intense, piercing shame that ensued (plus shell-shock from being rejected and reprimanded) were what drove me away from my peers. I did have individual positive interactions, even a precious few hang-outs (no more than five per year). But until I graduated high school, I never had any IRL relationship more intense than a vague acquaintance, plus literally two "girlfriends" that never got anywhere.

    Look, I know I'm rambling enough as it is, but I think it's also necessary to give insight into my putridly toxic home life situation, and the socio-economic climates of the towns I grew up in. These factors always impact a person's adolescence, and trust me when I say, if you think it's any easier when you're on the spectrum then you've got another thing comin'...

    For the most part, I was raised by the likes of Ed, Edd, 'n' Eddy, Tony Hawk's Pro Skater, Chef Boyardee, and what was then known as the information superhighway. My father was forbidden from being part of my life after around age 9, and I could only see him in supervised visitations until 18. There was a period where I had barely any contact with him whatsoever. In the meantime, I had a lovely experience being under the roof (more accurately roofs, as I spent three consecutive Christmases in three different homes) of "mommy dearest". She had a personality that alternated between Mother Teresa and that of Oskar Dirlewanger, sometimes switching between them mid-sentence. She just loooovved all the sympathy and sense of control she got from having a "bad" child. And she would never let therapists, social workers, and other family members forget about how she was just this tireless, selfless Florence Nightingale of an Autism Mom™️. Yet behind closed doors, mommy dearest, the proto-Karen, ruled over her domain in a way that would make Frau Engel from the Wolfenstein reboot proud. We'll leave it at that...

    It should be obvious that I "didn't get out much", not that I really wanted to anyway... I was one of the poorest kids in both of the boujee-ass towns I spent most of my public school years in. I was surrounded by the most pampered, self-righteous, and elitist trust fund kids you can imagine. They all wore nothing but Vineyard Vines and Abercrombie (even Hollister was deemed trashy), all just had to have the latest iPhones, all played lacrosse or Pop Warner, and were having hang-outs, dates, and parties left and right. Meanwhile, I walked the halls of my middle school in knockoff Chuck Taylors from Payless, draped in K-Mart brand rags, never getting my first smartphone until freshman year of college. I even spent 7th and 8th grade living with my Fox News-watching granny, the next town over from where I actually attended school, because of how poor mommy dearest and I were. And as you can imagine, this class divide only deepened my rejection of my peers, and was compounded by her manipulation and abuse...

    Even the scene kids and emos thought I was an utter freak, unworthy of inclusion in their little subculture. I was envious of the fellow shoppers browsing the racks of merch and gewgaws at Spencer's or Hot Topic, but my awkwardness must have soured any hope for salvation from the thicc emo chick of my first fap fantasies. Having brought my in-person social isolation on myself through a couple obsessive schoolboy crushes, I retreated ever deeper into a digital teenage wasteland of brooding misanthropy, both as an escape from, and a means to process, the daily gauntlet of middle school walking in my bootleg Converses. In the meantime, my social life was entirely online, taking place mostly on obscure video game forums of dubious repute, or a deviantART account that a better mother would not have allowed me to create. On one board for a game I wanted but didn't actually own, I managed to make two close MSN Live Messenger penpals and confidants; both of these traitor scumbags were excommunicated many years ago, for reasons I'd rather not revisit.

    The more I ruminate over this damned era, the more I wish I could go back in time and just shove my 7th grade self in a locker (plus leave him a list of recommendations for better tunes to get into), like a bully version of the Terminator. If I had the power, I'd expunge any and all records of my internet presence from 2007 to like, 2015 from the annals of history. As it was on the playground, I still yearned for empathy and camaraderie, and once again, I made a complete ass of myself, everywhere I went, to paraphrase the Hollywood Undead song. So I think we should wrap things up, because it's safe to assume that I've probably made an ass of myself. Again.

    Fittingly, I think that is the dominant anxiety that plagues me prior to most social situations. Whether I'll be able to breathe a sigh of relief that I pulled it off, or live with the searing humiliation of stumbling like the klutz that I am, feeling the emotional manifestation of points subtracting from two Sims' friendship bar after a heated Simlish argument.

    But it has gotten better for me over the years. Through all that abuse, betrayal, heartbreak, alienation, and times when I shot myself in the foot, my aunt would always re-assure me that I'd someday "find my peeps". Only in recent years have I finally found them. And from them, memories that I once felt I never deserved to make. The excitement of riding the subway out to the city to attend concerts, venting about past traumas over smoke seshes, Cards Against Humanity in the dorm common areas, CoD Zombies parties that go on to the wee hours of the morning, laughing until my sides hurt over the stupidest conversations, starting a metal band, holding hands with an actual goddamn partner... I, an autistic man of 24 years, have earned all these things. Somehow. I guess what I'm trying to say is - don't ever think for a second that you're unworthy of finding your own peeps. A few good peeps are infinitely better than a million limp, melty ones...
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 27, 2020
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  2. Yeshuasdaughter

    Yeshuasdaughter Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    Of course I do. I loved our little family Christmas. I love being around people. Sometimes people watching in the city is so much fun. I crave solitude as well. But I love my family so much, and enjoy their company.
     
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  3. Sherlock77

    Sherlock77 Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    To keep it simple, I do enjoy spending time with friends, but very much prefer doing it in small groups of no more than four (assuming that we aren't in Covid restrictions)

    As a group gets much larger than that, I find it hard to follow what generally becomes multiple conversations, particularly if it's inside a building (again assuming no Covid restrictions), basically my head gets rather "spinny" fast
     
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  4. Progster

    Progster Gone sideways to the sun V.I.P Member

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    That's another one of those myths surrounding people on the spectrum, that they can't/won't socialise, can't have friends or don't enjoy company of people. Not necessarily true - how sociable a person is, is a result of their personality and life experiences. Some more extrovert autistic people seek out company, those more introverted may prefer their own company more - that's down to personality. Also, an autistic person's reluctance to socialise or wanting to avoid people may be a result of bad past experiences, PTSD, or social anxiety - all of which may be related to autism but not a part of the autism itself.
     
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  5. BrokenBoy

    BrokenBoy 戯言使い(Nonsense User)

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    I love social interaction! I just mess up at it so it doesn't happen a lot...
     
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  6. Suzanne

    Suzanne Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    People I can be myself with, I enjoy the company of and hate it when it ends. The key is that generally speaking it is HARD to make friends or in my case, HARD to keep friends, because I sense: I like this person and want to get to know them, but have no idea how to go about it and therefore, missed many opportunties to have friends.

    The fact that aspies come here feeling depressed because of being alone, is testament that they WANT to associate with others. They WANT to be social and some are able to UP TO A POINT and then need time on own to recuperate.

    I am not your stereotypical aspie. I do not have a montoned voice and have a very expressive face.

    There is a saying: you meet one aspie....you meet one aspie.

    Think of neurotypicals. They have varied, because they were all the same, then we would either get on very well with them or not at all.
     
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  7. Deepthought

    Deepthought Active Member

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    I am now more myself a "lone-wolf" type of an Aspie, and like some other Aspies you are like I used to be in terms of being more of a "wolf-pack" type.

    Hence there being expressions like, "If you've met one person with autism ~ you've met one person with autism!" as are proven individually by yourself, myself and everyone else differently by extent or degree here and everywhere else on the spectrum.

    Some of us are mutably or immutably for instance more extroverts with social or even societal senses of belonging, or by contrast introverted reclusives that favour isolation and minimal stimulation above and beyond all else, and that is not forgetting everyone else in between either! :)

    Autism is after all a spectrum condition of multitude metaphorical colours and shades, not merely a limited range of fixed and set behaviourisms or characteristics that have no variations or contrasts amongst others on the spectrum.

    Individuality is not therefore a crime or an irregularity ~ but it is an evolutional constant and a characteristic necessity that manifests itself through repeating patterns in nature, naturally. :)
    .
     
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  8. Brandon Brylawski

    Brandon Brylawski Big-hearted polymath

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    An autistic psychiatrist summarized it very well for me. She said: most people on spectrum have relatively diminished social needs. If an average neurotypical person was a 100, most people on spectrum would be 0-70. But I'm a 95, an autist with typical need for social interaction. We exist, we're just up at one end of the curve. It's the same with empathy, although those two characteristics don't necessarily track together.

    I find that I'm most comfortable with other high-functioning autists with typical social needs (I've encountered very few) and very geeky neurotypicals that share enough interests and history with me to tolerate the communications divide.

    It is exhausting to deal with groups of strangers, probably because I feel like I have to be on my guard all the time to avoid behavior that puts them off.
     
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  9. Trophonius

    Trophonius Well-Known Member

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    Yes, but there are very few people with whom the social interaction is enjoyable. Interacting with people is, most of the time, uninteresting and tiring.
     
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  10. Fino

    Fino Alex V.I.P Member

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    What you describe in the beginning is all perfectly normal, if not the dominant view, but I didn't read the rest of the post.
     
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  11. Brandon Brylawski

    Brandon Brylawski Big-hearted polymath

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    Often that's true. It helps to congregate in groups that are there to enjoy some activity that you find inherently interesting to talk about, e.g board games, LARPs, theater, science, etc.
     
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  12. Sherlock77

    Sherlock77 Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    I'm an HFA 1 who does street photography, and often asks complete strangers if I can take their photo, does that count? I don't know if that's a "social need" as such, but have become comfortable doing things like that over many years of photography...

    When I'm in a large crowd at a large event I don't try to interact too much, I just go into my journalistic mode, almost pure observation...
     
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  13. Brandon Brylawski

    Brandon Brylawski Big-hearted polymath

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    For me, performing (and its like) always felt different than interacting with people generally. So I could lecture, sing, play a part, or otherwise engage strangers formally long before I was comfortable just trying to strike up a conversation. I think it was because I knew the rules about performing - what I was there for, when to start and stop, etc. -- all the things that make regular talk seem like a minefield. Also, I knew that what I was doing had value, while in a conversation I would feel worried that I was boring the other person or wasting their time.
     
  14. OkRad

    OkRad μῆνιν ἄειδε θεὰ Πηληϊάδεω Ἀχιλῆος οὐλομένην V.I.P Member

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    I am very empathetic to my own harm.

    I have no idea where they came up with that idea because most aspies I have met have echoed what @BrokenBoy said about WANTING to interact but messing it up.

    I do crave being with friends but they don't want me around. You know, email people who never email back, etc. I have a small group of friends I can see as long as I don't let them see my aspie traits. Mask=friends.

    Harder with those who see you every day and don't like it. Just recently, in fact, a person with whom I live spelled it out clearly. I had been trapped in my tiny room for 10 hours (where I must stay during the day) and went down to say hi and a change of scenery and all.....and they said, "What do you want?!"

    So who has no empathy? If I knew someone had been trapped in a room 10 hours, I would say something to the effect of Are you hungry?! or hey! or something. Not, "What do you want?!" I have also been in mid sentence when same said, "Are you done?!"

    So yeah.....it's a little late in the game but I think I am catching on that I care a heck of a lot more than others.
     
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  15. Ronin82

    Ronin82 Dog Trainer Extraordinaire

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    I've come to the recent realization that I'm actually a more extroverted aspie than I thought! I really do REQUIRE a certain level of social activity. Its less than a NT, and I frequently screw things up, but I still like being around certain people far more than I used to be wiling to admit. Honestly, lock-down has totally opened my eyes to the fact that I NEED social interaction more often than I'm getting it, and while I definitely hit a wall and have to hide to recharge, or make some really egregious social faux pas on a good day, these facts don't make me more or less of an Aspie. I am autistic, and I like being social to a certain extent and level of control. I have a very tight rope to walk when it comes to interaction time and types, but I still crave it.
     
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  16. Wolfsage

    Wolfsage In training to be Wolf King.

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    Someone mention me?:p
     
  17. zozie

    zozie Well-Known Member

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    My highly trained and extra knowy autism assessor(tm) said that "individuals with ASD do not have relationships"! You all are faking it! It's a conspiracy!!!!11!!1 Liars, each and every one of you! I can see her now:

    *assessor sputters and gesticulates wildly*
    *accidentally makes eye contact with an autistic person*
    *explodes*

    .......that was actually a very gratifying image.

    Humor aside, my own thoughts to come at a later date.
     
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  18. zozie

    zozie Well-Known Member

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    On a serious note. I do enjoy socializing in a way that suits me, and with people who aren't incomprehensible. I am way more social than I used to be, just with a neurodiverse crowd. I am way less social than I used to be with people I have a hard time understanding. These are generally neurotypical people, but the venue could just as easily be an issue.

    For example, I don't go to social events anymore. Not in person. I used to do a lot of that, especially when I was networking into a software engineering position. Lot of events, lots of rhetoric, lots of noise. I used to imagine myself as someone who would fit into social situations, so I'd do it and I'd basically perform, and I actually have no idea if I did well or not. Probably not.

    My social life is mostly over text or online platforms, and that works really well for me. It's asynchronous, meaning the back-and-forth isn't immediate, and writing is easier than speaking. I'd be pretty sad if I didn't have the ability to be social in this way, so I do need interactions to an extent.

    I also have an in-person friend I call or meet in person every so often. We go out for coffee and discuss our personal journeys and how they're unfolding. He's the only person I do that with, and one is enough for now.

    Smaller groups was mentioned here as being easier. I'd agree with that, and also say that within those groups, it's only nice if the people aren't difficult to understand. It was that way before the massive stress of 2020, and perhaps will be that way again.

    And seeing as how I'm not *officially* diagnosed as on the spectrum, it's perhaps an outside view that I offer. I still self-identify as an aspie, so I guess you can make whatever distinction you feel is most useful.

    Edit: at the beginning of this post, I wrote that "I'm way more social than I used to be." I think this is really telling, seeing as how I spoke of all of the events and such that I used to attend in the past. What I mean is that the "social" that I am now is an enjoyable social, not a chore, which gets put into the "chore" category of the past, not the "social". If that makes sense.
     
  19. Neonatal RRT

    Neonatal RRT Active Member

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    If it is one-on-one socialization, and it is an interesting conversation, then tolerable,...but those situations are far and few between. Usually, though, if there is more than two people in the room,..I am not part of that conversation. Sure, I will stand there out of politeness sometimes, but most of the time, I will leave.
     
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  20. Judge

    Judge Well-Known Member

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    Extroverted persons on the spectrum do exist, though I can't claim to relate to them.

    In any event it's not a crime if you think this fits your description. After all, we're an eclectic lot...we on the spectrum.
     
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