Thursday, October 2, 2014

What REALLY Makes Me Different

Most of you reading this probably already know about my condition, known as Asperger Syndrome.  It used to be that I blamed all of my problems on it, and used it as an excuse to get out of anything I didn't want to do, such as housework or yard work.  Now that I'm more mature, I realize that doing so was merely laziness; there was no reason why I couldn't have mowed the lawn, fed the dog, or kept my room clean.  I just was trying to find a way out of it, which wasn't the right thing to do.  Still, the fact that I am different from most people remains.  Some folks love it; others despise me for it.  You may think the latter isn't true, but...there has to be a reason why I've been unfriended as many times as I have.  I'm not going to worry about those who can't handle someone who is different, though; I'll just be grateful for those who have stuck around all this time.

Some of you may be inclined to think that it's my condition that makes me the way I am, but, honestly, I think I've recovered from it.  Most of the traits that led to my original diagnosis are gone, and those supposedly "autistic" traits that I still have--bad handwriting, talking out loud to myself--are ones I've seen in plenty of people without such a condition.  Besides which, most of you wouldn't know about my poor penmanship or my tendency to think out loud if I didn't discuss them.  In years past, I was told that, since I was "high-functioning", I could do anything I wanted to; I didn't believe them back then, but, now, I know they were right.  Many people have told me that I have the mildest case of A.S. they've ever seen.  After meeting others with it, I'd say they were right.

So, if it isn't my condition, then, what is it? I've boiled it down to two personality traits, based on what I've seen in myself versus what I see others do and say.  Maybe those traits are a product of my condition; I'd say they're just who I am.  If you know me, you'll probably recognize what I'm talking about when you read each description.

First off: Most people like certain things; I become ardently enthused about them.  Correct me if I'm wrong, but...who among you doesn't like to be entertained? Can any of you reading this say you've never watched television, seen a movie, read a book, or listened to a song only for fun? Of course you have; it's a natural desire to want to be entertained.  However, while everyone else likes entertainment, I have a passion for it, and one that seems to exceed others'.  Though many of you like your television shows, movies, tunes, and novels, they're not your usual topic of discussion; instead, you talk about your job, your children, your relationship, etc.  Not only am I single and childless, but my job--working at a library--involves entertainment, as I spend many an hour shelving fiction books, CDs, and, to a lesser degree, DVDs. Even some of the non-fiction books there relate to entertainment, such as biographies of singers and actors.  It's my choice to work at a library; in fact, my plan is to further my education in that field and one day become a true librarian.  It's no surprise that I consider entertainment my significant other; it seems to take place of an actual relationship...but I'm fine with that.  Most other people--especially ones my age--have spouses and children to worry about, which leaves them little time for celluloid and literary diversions; I have plenty of time for entertainment, only because it's very important to me.

Second off: When it comes to what most people do...I just don't understand it.  Most of you probably have a circle of friends you often do things with, right? You, your spouse, and some other married couples get together for...well, whatever it is y'all do together; as a lifelong single, I wouldn't know.  Well, I haven't had a group to hang out with in years; even though I was a member of certain groups, my different tendencies made me an outcast, which led to serious problems.  It just seemed like I couldn't really get along with anyone.

That tendency has continued, even in recent years.  A few years ago, I was discussing something with an older friend, and I told him I wanted to make a "Team TORi" shirt in support of my then-favorite celebrity, Victoria Justice.  He thought that was a bad idea, and told me that other young adults were getting involved in a "cause"--i.e., saving the environment--and that I should do the same.  To a degree, I can understand "going green"; in fact, I often try to take steps to save energy, and I throw any acceptable materials into the recycling bin, whether they be soda cans or old library receipts.  Still, that's something I'm just going to do on my own; I'm not going to attend meetings and rallies about it, because...well, how would I get to them? You probably wouldn't even know about my tendency to recycle or attempts to save energy if I didn't tell you, because I never talk about them; while I believe in such a cause, I'm just not overly enthused about it.  Plus, how much could you say about such a topic?

That also applies to other areas of entertainment.  When I was a junior in high school, I had an English teacher who was fresh out of college and rather attractive.  Many guys--even outside of her classes--thought she was "hot"; I'll admit to being one of them.  However, my best friend at the time did not think of her that way, because she was married to another teacher at our high school; to my friend, that made her unattractive.  Most of the male population of my high school disagreed with him, but he didn't care.  I mention that because that's how I feel about other people's definition of "fun" at times.  I know many of you find theme parks, sports, activities involving large bodies of water, and owning pets fun; that's great for you...but I don't feel that way.  I simply can't wrap my head around why going to Busch Gardens or spending an evening watching a bunch of guys throw a ball around is anything about which to get excited.  If you want to get involved in that...good for you; go do it...just don't try and involve me.  I realize that such opinions have led to me having many solitary pursuits, but, I'm not going to spend my own time, effort, and money on something I can't stand just because it would help me "fit in" with other people; those who truly know me know that being "one of the many" just isn't my thing.

I will end by saying this: Throughout my life, I have often gotten special recognition for being different.  One such case involved an eighth grade science project where we had to find elements from the periodic table in everyday items; many kids used pencil lead, thinking it was the element lead.  However, I knew from an old science encyclopedia we had that the lead used in a pencil is actually graphite, which is a type of carbon.  I put that on my project, and the teacher said, "You're the only one who had that right."  Others have commended me on everything from media discernment to Bible knowledge to simply being unique.  Though I appreciate such encouragement, I can't let it go to my head; being different and doing/knowing what others don't doesn't make me superior to them.  Sometimes, I feel like I've lost friends not because of my different traits, but because I was so proud of everything I did, it verged on bragging, and they'd just had enough, so they severed ties.  You may disagree; unless you're a former friend of mine, though, I don't think you could say for sure.  We are told to be humble, and even secular morality says that it's wrong to be conceited; even though I am a different person, I am still a person, and, as the Declaration of Independence says, everyone was created equal.

Any comments?