Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Still different


So, I wrote Different the other day, kind of contemplating the similarities I have to John Elder Robison and especially how that relates in my own life to my specific understanding and relating to the issues he has that are specific to his being a person with Asperger Syndrome. I kind of left off at what I would largely consider the outward issues that relate to that, which is interesting, and makes sense as I'm trying to express it to people.

That's not really the part that makes the question of whether or not I am also Aspergian interesting to me.

First of all, it's important to note, I am wholly obsessed with and yet not very good at reading the behavior of people around me. With great regularity, I respond to people close to me by confidently interpreting their behavior in ways that are, I'm assured, not at all what they intended to communicate.

I am also shockingly bad at job interviews. That could be a number of things, I'm sure. I have variously kept some jobs I was very unhappy at for extended periods because of my absolute terror at having to go through that process again.

Certainly that, in itself, is not proof of much, but I think inability to read or communicate in a natural, flowing way is a serious issue.

Since moving to Austin, I've actually done as well or better than my average at getting jobs, but, for what it's worth, there is a company here that I've been interviewed by at least six times since moving here and have not gotten any of the positions. Some of the positions were more considered top positions, which I was moved up to because I looked so qualified for on paper, and others were spectrum down the ladders, based on not getting previous offers, although the pattern was not straight down over all of that time.

I've been assured that I should be glad I never got a job with this company, and I know I'm happy with my current job, so my purpose is not unhappiness or bitterness at all. It's simply an interesting thing to observe. Somehow, I do something that at least doesn't work for them.

On a lighter note, the older I get, the more inclined I am to prefer acting that falls on the Gene Kelly side of The Kelly Astaire Paradigm that Greg Ferrara set-out. I want to say it was Malcolm McDowell, in the "O Lucky Malcolm!" documentary on the A Clockwork Orange DVD, who used the phrase "lean into" regarding acting performances. I found that a brilliant way of putting it and still do, but is my attraction in part because I'm able to read them better?

I'm not sure. I feel like I read subtle performances pretty well. Perhaps I just read them differently. Perhaps because it's a performance, I'm able to do ok. It would make sense that without having to react in real time and without having the same kind of emotional investment in the events, I read them just the same.

I don't know. I don't even really know if it's possible to know.

There are a variety of other things I can put down in the plus side, if I wanted. I think my strong tendency to think in logical terms and get very frustrated when people take positions that don't make sense to my understanding of the logic of it. That sounds entirely like a negative, and not uncommon in our current polarized world, but the counter to that is that I'm very able to adjust my positions when presented with a logical explanation of a contrary or alternate position. This was also a weakness and strength of my father's.

To add to that is a strong lack of perceived intimacy. I know that could be a "guy thing", and my position has traditionally been to understand it as such, especially as it connected to my father's. A trait passed down the line. He never made an effort to call or make varying contacts with my siblings or me after a physical separation, something I was always enraged by, but I, as noted in Pop, or memories in shades of blue, have always found myself doing the same thing, which has always made me equally enraged at myself, although that's never produced any valuable results.

My writing regularly stalls on my perfectionism. Perhaps if I'd had different habits, I'd have gotten a decent rhythm. I know my father had blacksmithing as skill he could use and build on. He made his living using variations on it, even before he struck out to start his own business.

Obviously, that, again, is a common concern for aspiring writers and creative types. I've always put it down to the same issues.

One of the aspects that I found the most satisfying during the production of Lakeside, the heartache of my life, was seeing how much more interesting everything I'd put down was when put into a real person's mouth. It's a substantial reason why, despite my general frustration and despondence regarding so much of what I failed to accomplish in making it, I come back to moviemaking as my goal and resist prose writing is the fact of how much more I liked that, despite my enormous struggles and heartbreaks with many of the other aspects of the process.

So, I have an increasing list of things that kind of go down on the "pro" column, although a great deal of them are things that can, at least in themselves, be easily dismissed as not terribly uncommon, in some cases, even common.

In completing Be Different: My Adventures with Asperger's and My Advice for Fellow Aspergians, Misfits, Families, and Teachers, I found myself increasingly convinced that I have too similar a way of thinking to be a mere coincidence.

Which leads to more questions than answers, I think.

Robison certainly favors getting a diagnosis, and perhaps he's right. I'm not sure to what end exactly, despite my open contemplation with little in the way of answers. The symptoms I've described, and some I've not, are things I've struggled with my entire life. Whether it's due to Asperger's or another Austism spectrum disorder doesn't change the things I struggle with. They are who I am. The only potential answer is why. It doesn't provide a solution.

And Robison also favors assimilation more than I do. That's probably another basic personality difference. I've never done well with the idea of me changing to meet the rest of the world. It's certainly why I am where I am, for better and for worse.

I'm not against improving. Goodness, I have spent my whole life struggling to improve and doing a pretty fair job of it. That's includes having to do it while feeling like I was simply all kinds of a failure for not doing better with social and interpersonal activities and relationships.

If I saw something that would be good about getting a diagnosis of some kind, as a validation of those struggles, in some way. On the other hand, that desire seems wrongheaded in itself. I was always too hard on myself anyway, and I don't need to have a diagnosis for my struggles, they are just part of the life I've lived.

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