Fifteen

During high school,

My principal asked me why I wore the green orientation shirt from last year instead of the one from this year. It was the second day of orientation, and we just received the shirts yesterday, when we wore them for the first time. Since wearing it for the second time in a row without washing it is disgusting, and my hamper wasn’t full enough for me to wash my clothes, I simply replied, “I wore the white [the colors of that year’s shirt] shirt yesterday.” Then I said no more, and she nodded slowly with a humored smile that really annoyed me. I also ended up being the only person who wore the wrong shirt color in the group photo and stuck out like a sore (green) thumb. My point is, I have plenty of social ineptitude stories to share in the future.

Then I took an education class on teaching students with special needs, and I’ve been wondering ever since whether if I have Asperger’s. I identify with so many, if not all, of the symptoms of Asperger’s. I’ve always struggled with social relationships outside of my small group of friends both at home during high school and later in college. I struggled with the abstract and uncertainties in verbal reasoning and predictions. I worked hard at understanding others’ point of view and still hate “small talk” and other rules for a proper social life. Fortunately, I also learned the dangers of self-diagnosing. It’s like, a red apple isn’t a tomato by just being as red as a tomato. Just because I have a lot in common with people who have Asperger’s doesn’t make me a person with Asperger’s.

I have a lot of issues, and acknowledging that I have a lot of the Asperger’s symptoms helped me accept the way I am. I’ve embraced my straightforwardness and honesty, and I recently learned how to use it to my advantage. I accept that situations like thick crowds, tight dresses, and loud music (aka college parties) that I’m supposed to be experiencing would cause me much overstimulation and anxiety. My immunity to social pressures is both a gift and a curse, as illustrated with the orientation shirt story.

That’s why I find people with Asperger’s so inspiring by identifying with their struggles and talents. We share a frustration for the ever changing and ever evolving social codes that we don’t understand or simply don’t bother to follow, because some rules are stupid. When I listen to speakers such as Temple Grandin or characters such as Sheldon Cooper, I find them so honest, reasonable, and making so much sense more than neurotypical people, who–I think–are actually the crazy ones. 

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