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I wish I was good at masking.

avanaphia

Member
I've always considered myself somewhat decent at masking but I'm now coming to the realization that I'm not as good at it as I thought. I feel like no matter how hard I try people will know that there's something "different" about me. They may not know it's autism specifically but they know that I'm socially awkward or when I miss a social cue and they'll make their assumptions on me based on that.

I noticed when I worked as a waitress I'd have customers initially talk to me normally until I start talking then they suddenly switch to a childlike voice or I even had some outright refuse to let me serve them because I guess I'm seen as incompetent. I seem to get two types of reactions from people, it's either I get treated like a literal child or people are just straight up rude to me. There's no inbetween. My coworkers, classmates, friends and family all talk to me the same way. Depsite all my efforts in masking, people still treat me like a 5 year old.

Maybe I'm doing something wrong but for me there seems to be no point in masking. I'll always be seen as different no matter what. I can't even hide it. I also feel like my ability to mask has gotten worse over the years. I don't feel as capable as I was when I was a teenager.
 
Masking, in general, is a fool's errand. Mostly because of the mental toll. But plenty of NDs use it still to blend in to a world they will never hope to fully understand.

From what it seems. You have cracks in your mask. Emotional and mental drain will do that. Putting as much mental effort, as we do, to hide.

You can go two routes at this point. Redouble your efforts to mask, or drop the mask and be you.

What others think, isn't as much of a factor in our lives as we think. There are places where first impressions are important. But as far as being you, it's not imperative.

We can please some people some of the time, but we can't please everyone all of the time.
 
I also feel like my ability to mask has gotten worse over the years. I don't feel as capable as I was when I was a teenager.
Your environment has changed, and you may not have changed with it, or you're changing more slowly (which is functionally equivalent).

(Last minute edit because I wrote this before @Xinyta posted. Xintya and I have a philosophical difference here. But not one we'll fight over. I haven't changed any part of my post, because (of course :) I'm more correct than he is - but he's not wrong.)

It seems that, in a sense, you're at a crossroads. The more difficult but best path forward is to consciously and actively work on your social skills, including "masking", moving towards interacting smoothly and efficiently with the NT-centric world.
BTW there should be an option to "enroll in NT school". Maybe one day it will exist. But if you can't find one right now, don't wait.

How to go about this?
There are answers. There are certainly ASDs who are better at it than you. You might find something on the web. You might get help here.

But first: Make it a life goal (like taking care of your physical health). Because you'll never be done.

but for me there seems to be no point in masking. I'll always be seen as different no matter what. I can't even hide it.
You are different. Not in a bad way. But you can't expect that difference to go away.

BTW that "I can't even hide it" is "playing to lose". Excuses for inaction are not compatible with accepting something positive and useful as a life goal.
 
@avanaphia

Have you tried asking for feedback to a person you trust? We're very bad at knowing how others see us. Not just those with ASD, everybody.

The other part is that if you believe you're different, then you may behave in a different way.

One more thing: I don't think masking is bad all the time. Every single person in the world does it. Probably my dog masks too to get way with treats. It's sometimes the basics of human interaction: pretended for the benefit of positive interactions.

The goal, though, is to mask in a way that doesn't hurt you in the long run, which for me is to not mask all the time in all circumstances and for important things.

It's not as bad now, but my constant masking meant that I didn't know who I was, so from time to time I invented a different me, and that different me went into relationships. That's a disaster.

But occasional, nicely placed masking is not bad at all. It's like a lubricant of social interactions for the sake of improving interactions.
 
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I see it similarly to @marc_101. Being able to mask (well) is a blessing, as well as a curse. The better you are at masking, the more people expect you to be able to keep the mask on permanently, and the less understanding they are when you're no longer able, or willing, to keep up the mask, e.g. because you're burning out.

I masked very well until a while ago, and my mask has been slipping more and more over the past year, both involuntarily due to burnout and exhaustion, and voluntarily in situations where I felt safe to act naturally. I still know cognitively how to mask well, but I'm less able (and willing) to do it and am trying to find a healthier balance.

If you feel like all people treat you that way, you could think about which person you trust the most to be honest and open with you. This person you could honestly ask how you come across, and whether their way of talking to you is intentional. If there is no one, you could ask someone professional, e.g. a counselor, coach, your doctor, anyone.
 
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Will you lose your job for it? Do you get fewer tips for it?

If there is truly no point in masking, then I'd just get comfortable with it. People have always treated me like a child because I have a physical handicap which isn't that easy to hide.

It's not such a bad thing really, they go out of their way to help me and to be polite to me, and it makes them feel good for doing so.

I have had similar struggles with unmasking. A combination of stopping disassociating and stopping drinking (which suppresses the CNS, thus suppressing stimming behavior) has raised my stimming to untenable levels. I stimmed quite a bit when younger, but this is a new level.

I feel embarrassed over it, but then I remember the disassociated, alcoholic myself - someone who was literally incapable of bonding with her children or her spouse, and was consumed with work and the glories it brought. Romans 6 calls us all to die to our old selves, so that we might be freed from the sins which made us unhappy. That promise is getting fulfilled. So it's a very positive thing on the whole IMO.
 
I used to date somebody who was in her mid 30s at the time. She was an attorney and had an important position prosecuting financial crimes. She was short, and had a baby face and long blond hair. It used to drive her crazy that she was always confused by the intern or the college student. High heels, makeup would barely help.

Just saying that there are many reasons to be treated differently.... Not saying that the poster fits into this category. Just remembered her. I bet that now that she is older she would be happy to be confused for the intern. :)
 
I don't reall attach any philosophical meaning to masking. I think of it as a skill like any other. Some can progress essentially self taught, but others may need some outside coaching. If you have anyone you really trust, perhaps you can get some constuctive feedback.

I definately think it is worth learning. It can be a valuable item in your life toolbox.
 
Even NT's mask keeping up with the Jones is implies this, my form is masking is easy keep my mouth shut others mistake me for an introvert.
I used to date somebody who was in her mid 30s at the time. She was an attorney and had an important position prosecuting financial crimes. She was short, and had a baby face and long blond hair. It used to drive her crazy that she was always confused by the intern or the college student. High heels, makeup would barely help.

Just saying that there are many reasons to be treated differently.... Not saying that the poster fits into this category. Just remembered her. I bet that now that she is older she would be happy to be confused for the intern. :)
My wife is three years younger than me others when they see her mistake me for her father.
 
"Masking" is hiding - literally, hiding behind a mask. This is a negative thing. One feels one is "odd," "wrong," "inappropriately different" and requires that one hides it.

Instead of masking, try using the positive version, which is "signalling." In signalling, one chooses the qualities one wants others to perceive, then acts in a manner to project those qualities.

For example, figure out why people respond to a person as if the person were a child. Is it the voice or vocal patterns? These can be changed. Is it a retiring posture/demeanor? This can be changed.

Maybe NT people signal by their nature, or maybe they signal intentionally because they know how much it matters. I don't know.

For me (autistic) I know I have had to learn why and how to signal because it definitely doesn't come naturally to me.
 
I used to date somebody who was in her mid 30s at the time. She was an attorney and had an important position prosecuting financial crimes. She was short, and had a baby face and long blond hair. It used to drive her crazy that she was always confused by the intern or the college student. High heels, makeup would barely help.

Just saying that there are many reasons to be treated differently.... Not saying that the poster fits into this category. Just remembered her. I bet that now that she is older she would be happy to be confused for the intern. :)
Yeah I feel like that could also be part of the reason in my case. I do have a baby face and I'm short. I'm 22 but most people assume that I'm in my early to mid teens. I tend to dress very casually and don't wear makeup either. Having autism on top of that probably gives people more of a reason to treat me that way. So that makes sense.
 

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