Don’t forget to look me up on Instagram, TikTok, and Twitter under “RealAutismSpeak” if you want to follow my daily exploits, for more than what I’m able to put out here–for the time–on this blog! Also on Clouthub, MeWe, Gab, MAGAbook, and Minds as well.
So at the end of last month, I got to meet my human godson for the very first time; he’s only a few weeks old right now, and he’d all been just brought home from the hospital, and he’s still undergoing new living arrangements, and all that. I held him a little bit, but right now, his main thing is….well, crying when he’s not in Mommy’s arms; and by that I mean he will literally cry in everyone else’s arms. I tried to soothe him, but again…..he’s brand new to this world, only Mommy gives him comfort; even his Daddy holding him doesn’t seem to…..nor his grandparents. Yes, you read that right: his grandparents. By that, I mean his grandparents stopped by while I was there, around halfway thru the day I was spending with the kid and his parents. It’s actually quite fascinating though, because people seem to show up at their place literally every single time I’m there….and admittedly there are a few reasons for this, among them being that–as stated previously–his Mom is a very social butterfly, and all but seems to suffocate without that social interaction. So my guess is she’s lucky if she can even go a day without having some friends come over.
“Ok Russell, but….you were there, so why would she and her husband need more?” Dear reader, that’s what we’re gonna talk about today; consider this entry one of many add-ons (plenty to come) to the Socializing mini-series, and something I forgot to include then, but I don’t feel like calling this Part XXI. This goes back to yet another reason I continue to emphasize how futile trying to “do all the right things” is when it comes to socializing on the spectrum; I even did a few vlogs on Instagram/TikTok about it…one of which was called “Invasion of the Body Snatchers”; the entire point of the video was that…..ok picture the scenario:
Let’s say you decide “to hell with everything Russell says; people just think he’s a nerdy loser who doesn’t try hard enough! I’m gonna take out every book on body language, watch every video on Youtube that I can, perfect my eye contact, make sure I research every conceivably interesting topic imaginable, and I’ll be just fine!”. Hey, go for it….if that’s your bag. You’ll wind up lasting a little bit longer with folks then, in their “screening” process of you; also, hope every session with them you have something new and exciting, or else you’ll be right back to Square 1. Hell, even the guy in the comments of the video of the Strong Successful Male Youtube series said that an Autistic guy he knew works out, takes care of himself, has self-confidence, is financially successful, and does great with the ladies. I take that to mean he gets his “pick o’ the litter”, but that doesn’t necessarily translate to long-term success, with anyone. As stated in the very first entry of the Socializing mini-series–linked above–and elaborated further on in my Instagram/TikTok video, it comes down to social flow, which our brains aren’t wired for.
Basically, the other party can sense something is off. They can’t put their finger on it, but something doesn’t naturally gel with the social flow, when they’re interacting with us, and it’s very discomforting for them, usually. Oh don’t get me wrong…they may absolutely love what we bring to the table in ever other aspect, but if you honestly believe that social flow isn’t–even subconsciously–held head and shoulders above everything else–you’re kidding yourself. “Russell, you honestly mean to tell me that your Godson’s parents value social flow over the fact that they know how dedicated you’ll be to his growth?!” To that….I must respond…..being on the spectrum, I know how hard it is to imagine such seemingly-questionable prioritization….because again, that’s how our minds are designed. Don’t get me wrong…..his parents value me, and value what I’ll bring to the table, but (especially right now, being new parents), it’s a tightrope walk–in part, still not having experienced the full responsibilities of raising a family–between someone they know will offer an alternate perspective and be extremely devoted, but won’t be able to bring social flow to the table, and knowing that his godfather will be indirectly socially ostracized over it, and that he’ll have to learn what’s truly important in life in the long run, as a result. Yes, a lot of it really does come down to social currency, and the gambles people take with it……and how risking that social currency is one of the most terrifying aspects to folks not on the spectrum. And yes, he does have a Godmother who is far more capable with social flow than I am, but in their minds, she may not bring to the table what I do; again, they likely view it as a balancing act. That being said, when I’m there…..the social flow isn’t there, they likely feel things get awkward at some point, and so they call in the cavalry for “reinforcements”……at least for now. The plus side is I know I am still valued, and being given the honor of Godfather was proof of that, and honestly it’s my main focus in regarding them, so that’s where my attention remains. Besides, every time I go there, I almost always seem to have the experience where I can take notes of my social experience to share with all of you…so it’s not like I feel I’m wasting my time or anything. They’re good people, just weirded out by me…but again, who isn’t? In my case, I’ve already stated that I only deal with people on an as-needed basis as well, due to how poor my social experience has been overall, so….we’re still both getting what we need out of it….and I’ll get into that aspect more at the conclusion of this entry; but first, I want to share with you an experience that happened over 20 years ago now….
This was right after I graduated from high school; at the time, I was trying to connect with a gal I’d been kinda into, on a “friend” level; over the years, we did keep in contact to various degrees, even sending each other Christmas gifts and all that, but just like with everyone else of course, I was held at arm’s length; I was sure I brought it up in one of my earlier blog entries, but can’t seem to find the example at the moment; I may update this one with a link at a future point, if I do (just a heads-up, now). So back then, she offered to be friends (now I understand the “friend zone” thing perfectly fine, and honestly….knowing what I know now, I don’t want her, anyway…and will be getting into that at the conclusion of this entry), and I literally jumped at the offer, it literally having nothing whatsoever with continued hopes of “being” with her or anything, just happy to be given another chance, even if in a different way (are ya…..are ya starting to see why I just don’t like dealing with people in general, now?). So, we chatted a little bit here and there on the phone between Junior year thru a little after Senior year, and upon graduation, we found a time to hang out; she asked what I had in mind. Ya ready for my big “really thought-out” plan, folks? Bear in mind, I’m only 18 here, so….not saying it was a good plan, just…..well:
I offered to have her come to my place first, to check it out, then we’d go to hers, and see that, and then we’d figure it out from there; shut up, I was 18, my understanding of social experiences and interaction was even more limited than it is now at nearly 40. Instead, she “came up” with heading to this lake where fishing is done….and–surprise surprise–called in reinforcements from two of our classmates, to join us. Don’t get me wrong, they were awesome guys, but yeah……looking back, she sensed the awkward levels; and in fact, the majority of the time we hung out, she was busy hanging out with one of the other guys, or making sure we all hung out in a “group” setting, as it were. A few times I even remember pulling out my “being playful” card and got a little wacky, talking like one of those comic relief weirdos you see in movies, as I was trying to lure some fish in. There is one moment I will never forget from the experience though, and I do semi-facepalm about it looking back…not because I feel like I embarrassed myself or anything, but the social attempt I was trying to make for their benefit, knowing how little I care now:
So, we were at the lake fishing (and btw one thing I absolutely hated about this was that they caught the fish, then threw it back; if that’s your bag, fine….I just don’t get the appeal), and as I saw fish coming up, there must have been a stick nearby or something, cause the other two guys had the fishing poles, and I went into being playful by going “come on….come on over here, you fucking bastards”, or something to that effect, with a psychotic look on my face; again, it was entirely to be playful, little more. The facepalm moment was when I said to her “so was this how you were expecting I’d act like, since you got to experience me more thoroughly now?”, as in out of a school setting. Essentially, I was trying to grade what folks would actually think of what I’m like, compared to when I had to “buckle down” in school, as it were. I facepalm now thinking about it, cause WHO. FUCKING. CARES?!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I know, I know…I was young and didn’t know better, and was so pressured then to do whatever possible to be social and likable, and am just so glad now I’ve stopped with that shit. I remember I got home that night, and just told my parents the time was ok, as it wasn’t what I was expecting for a variety of reasons, and they were disappointed I just couldn’t enjoy it as it was. Well, I was 18 then; I didn’t know what I know now, and I no longer go into social scenarios expecting certain results and things the way I did then…..but this leads me to the big conclusion here:
The bottom line is, yes, strong chance is when you’re with other folks, being on the spectrum, you’re gonna be a “third wheel”; they’re gonna need other people around because–while they (might) appreciate what you bring to the table, they need that social flow for the balance, and in many cases they’re gonna value that ten times more than whatever you’re bringing; it’s 100% up to you to decide what is and isn’t worth your time. It’s also in continuation with why I just don’t deal with people in general at this point than on an as-needed basis; I recently had a chat with the 3rd shift supervisor at my job (no, not the Dept. Manager, this go), as he recently let go someone from my past from 3rd shift; the guy didn’t last long. Whenever people ask me why I’ve been willing to deal with those “types” of people up until recently, I bring up what I’ve stated in these entries, and explain “I don’t really like dealing with people in general; either I’ll see shit right up front, or I’ll have to dig, and find that they’re that way…so I figured with all the people I hung out with, at least I knew up front what I was getting, rather than putting in the effort, and eventually being disappointed”. He agreed with me on my assessment, and gave one of the greatest responses imaginable:
“It’s why I got used to just being content being by myself. At least that way, the only one who can disappoint me is me.”
I go home to my guinea pigs every night from work. You know what they do? They eat, sleep, shit, and squeal for food; that’s what I expect them to do, and that’s what they live up to….and they’re so incredibly cute. They’re not built up to be something they’ll never live up to; I love them for who and what they are, and that’s good enough for me.
The thing is…..that isn’t my experience in dealing with social situations, so I’m no longer there in hopes that this time things will totally work out better; if they do, there’s likely an expiration date on it, and I’ll enjoy the ride/experience while I can, unless there’s a deeper purpose for my being there. Decide for yourself if being a “third wheel” is really worth it; you know the social flow won’t be there when it’s just you, for them. At the same time though…..you’re not really getting them either, as a result…so is it worth it for you, either?
That’s entirely up to you, in the end.
Next time, I want to elaborate a little bit more on a topic from the Success mini-series; let’s see if you can remember the details well enough 😉